Oak Park’s urban forestry superintendent, Jim Semelka, insists the village regularly monitors its trees with branches hanging low over sidewalks.

On numerous village sidewalks, however, pedestrians standing more than 5 feet, 5 inches tall find themselves hunched over with a scrunched neck trying to avoid getting whacked in the head by low branches.

Semelka said anyone can call the village to request that a tree be trimmed. If it’s a tree on someone’s property with branches hanging over the sidewalk, the village will contact the property’s owner to have them take care of it. It’s the same process for bushes and/or hedges growing out over the sidewalk. Semelka said there is actually a village ordinance requiring private hedges and trees to be kept trimmed. It’s considered a public nuisance if a tree or bush “obstructs free passage of pedestrian or vehicular traffic or … obstructs a streetlight,” according to village code.

Property owners have 30 days to comply, and if not, they can be fined.

It’s also a violation if vehicular traffic in or approaching an intersection is obstructed. According to village ordinance concerning “clear sight areas at intersections,” overhanging tree branches or bushes should be trimmed to a height of no less than seven feet from the ground. Shrubs, bushes and plantings should be trimmed at a maximum height of 30 inches.

Property owners are also responsible for removing dead trees, limbs and branches from their own property. The village removes dead trees from village-owned land, Semelka said. The village prunes its parkways, or the area between the curb and sidewalk, starting in June. Between 4,000 and 5,000 trees are pruned every year, and they’re all trimmed once every four years.

CONTACT: tdean@wjinc.com

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