Neighborhood Complaint Becomes Township Issue

Kathy Goodwine, a resident in Robbinsville, complained over a year ago to council members about trees in her area that were lifting sidewalks. The issue soon became a township wide issue, because trees in other areas of the town were also causing sidewalk lift.

To address the problem, the council looked at sidewalks in various areas and then sent out surveys to residents who live in areas with hazardous sidewalks. The survey had four options available to recommend: sidewalk grinding, root shaving, sidewalk realignment, and tree replacement. Sidewalk grinding would only be an option when the sidewalk uplift was less than 2 inches. The tree replacement option would entail choosing trees that would be better suited to grow in confined spaces. Each of these options had pros and cons. So far, residents have sent in 56 completed surveys.

The tree/sidewalk issue has been found to be very divisive and not easily solved. Trees provide shade, nesting habitat, and are aesthetically appealing. Sidewalks provide safety and increase the value of the adjacent home. Together, sidewalks and trees can become a hazard.

Whichever decision the township finally makes in addressing the sidewalk repair problem, the homeowner or homeowner’s association will be responsible for future repairs.