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Thursday, November 15, 2018
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Subject: Trees Obstructing Sight Lines
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Author Messages
AndersH
(Arizona)

Posts:24


11/01/2018 8:40 PM  
We are a community of 108 units in Arizona. There are 27 two-story buildings with 4 units in each building. One of the 2nd floor owners is complaining that a tree from his neighbor's back yard is obstructing his view of the mountain 24 miles away.

Section 4.10 of our CC&R's are reading as follows:
4.10 Fences, Interference and Obstructions. No fence, wall, hedge, shrub or other plant which obstructs sight lines at elevations between two (2) feet and six (6) feet above grade shall be permitted on any Unit or Common Element. No tree shall be permitted to remain within such area unless the foliage line is maintained at a sufficient height to prevent obstruction of such sight lines.

1. What is the proper interpretation of this paragraph?
2. What is the sight lines at elevation between two and six feet above grade?
3. Would section 4.10 apply to the problem described above?

Any help in sorting this out will be appreciated.
Anders Hellstrom
Former Board Member
BillH10
(Texas)

Posts:286


11/02/2018 7:24 AM  
AndersH

My interpretation of this language is any trees must comply with the 2"-6" sight line requirements described in the preceding paragraph. I don't see how this language will apply to a 2nd floor residence with a blocked view.

Is there additional language? I have seen language regarding sight lines in documents (and city codes), with drawings, most often addressing intersections between an alley and a street to ensure drivers can see oncoming vehicles, bicycles, etc.
KellyM3
(North Carolina)

Posts:1319


11/02/2018 8:10 AM  
It appears the foliage limitation is limited to a scope of height; it's clearly NOT foliage 6 feet and higher above grade. Honestly it appears that foliage taller than Grade + 6 feet is within compliance.
JeffT2
(Iowa)

Posts:419


11/02/2018 8:25 AM  
I agree with the others.

However, since you are a condominium, the board and association has control of the common elements.

Is the tree in the neighbor's back yard is actually a common element and therefore not the property of the neighbor?
AndersH
(Arizona)

Posts:24


11/02/2018 8:49 AM  
Thanks for your comments.
The tree is in the patio/yard area of the downstairs condo owner.
The second floor condo owner is sitting on his deck, which is above part of the patio area of the downstairs neighbor. Before the tree had grown to its present height, the upstairs owner could see the whole valley and the mountain 24 miles away. Now his view is obstructed by the tree right in front of his deck. I checked the tree this morning and the top of the tree is about 6 feet above the floor of the deck. I hope this will clarify the situation.
Anders
DouglasK1
(Florida)

Posts:1263


11/02/2018 12:16 PM  
"Grade" means ground level. My reading is that as long as the branches from 2-6 above ground level are trimmed, anything higher is allowed. I've read threads here in the past where some CCRs do make provisions for maintenance of views, or for view easements. Assuming what you sent is the only relevant part of the CCRs, I don't think the association can do anything. I'll admit that the 2-6 feet verbiage is a new one on me, and seems a bit strange.

Most CCRs allow for private enforcement, so if the second floor owner wanted to sue to enforce their interpretation, they could, but I don't think they'd win.

If you think this issue could arise again, it might be worth paying for a legal opinion regarding what this really means in your area and how the association should approach it.

Escaped former treasurer and director of a self managed association.
KellyM3
(North Carolina)

Posts:1319


11/08/2018 9:11 AM  
I see the issue now.....that tree's growth to block the second story is unfortunate. Courtesy (which isn't legally binding) would suggest a tree trimming/topping to restore the view.
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:750


11/08/2018 12:47 PM  
A potentially radical approach would be to cut the tree in front and THEN do the court thing ... I am not recommending this, but I would probably do it if I got no relief via three nice approaches.
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