Sight Obstructions

Print
Press Enter to show all options, press Tab go to next option

City ordinance requires property owners to remove vegetation, fences, signs, or any other objects that obstruct the view of motorists. The Traffic Engineering staff receives many calls each year about intersections that are unsafe due to overgrown vegetation that obstructs the view of motorists pulling into the intersection.

City staff investigates these reported intersections and determines the need for vegetation to be removed. If vegetation or another object is determined to be obstructing motorists' view, a staff member will leave a notice for the property owner to clear the obstruction.

GDOT encourages property owners to keep vegetation trimmed and to remove any other objects that obstruct the view of motorists at intersections. Most sign obstruction calls are received during the spring and summer seasons when vegetation growth is most abundant.

Sight obstruction diagram 
 
Sight obstruction triangle

 

Sight Obstruction Guideline
Major Street Speed Limit (mph) L - Distance Along Major Street (feet)
25 150
30 200
35 250
40 300
45 350
50 400
55 500

Sight Obstruction Ordinance

Sec. 16-8. Obstructions to cross-visibility at intersections. 

(a) In order to promote and conserve the public health and safety and pursuant to the police powers of the City and the power to prevent and abate public nuisances, it is declared to be a public nuisance for any person owning and/or having the legal control of any land within the corporate limits of the City to maintain or permit upon any such land any fence, sign, billboard, mailbox, shrubbery, tree, natural growth, earthen berm, or any other object, or any combination thereof, which obstructs the view of motorists using any street or approach to any street intersection so as to constitute a traffic hazard or a condition dangerous to the public safety.

(b) The restrictions set forth in this section shall apply to the plan view of the triangular area bounded by the curb (or edges of pavement where there is no curb) upon the street and a diagonal line joining points to the curb (or edge of pavement where there is no curb); the triangular area shall be defined by projecting the curb or edge of pavement for the abutting streets to an imaginary point of intersection. The base lines for the triangle shall be defined by measuring a minimum distance (as indicated in Table 1 below) along the major (nonstop) street and twenty (20) feet along the minor (stop) street from this point of intersection.

Major Street 
Speed Limit
(mph)
L - Distance Along
Major Street
(feet)
25 150
30 200
35 250
40 300
45 350
50 400
55 500

It shall be noted that the above Table 1 is indicating minimum sight clearance distances. Because of the unusual characteristics in the horizontal and vertical alignments of the roads of Greensboro (with curves and small hills), the distances along the major (nonstop) street will be determined according to the city transportation director or his designee on a case by case situation.

(c) Within the triangle, and except as provided in subsection (d) below, it shall be unlawful to install, set out or maintain, or allow the installation, setting out, or maintenance of any fence, sign, billboard, mailbox, shrubbery, tree, natural growth, earthen berm, or any other object of any kind which obstructs cross-visibility at a level between thirty (30) inches and ninety-six (96) inches above the average grade of the adjacent street.

(d) The provisions of subsection (c) shall not apply to:

  1. Permanent structures (i.e. buildings, bridge railings, retaining walls).
  2. Existing natural grades of existing streets which, by reason of natural topography, rise thirty (30) or more inches above the average grade of the adjacent streets.
  3. Fire hydrants, public utility poles, street markers, governmental signs, and traffic-control devices.

(e) Where compliance with this section in the foregoing described triangles is insufficient to prevent a potentially dangerous condition, the city transportation director may designate further measures which must be taken by the owner or other responsible person to eliminate such potentially dangerous conditions. Such measures shall be designated to provide an adequate sight and stopping distance for persons approaching the intersection at the prevailing speeds and may include the removal of obstructions at different heights or in areas outside the triangle established in subsection (b) above.

(f) If the provisions of any other law, ordinance or regulation of the city or of the state shall be in conflict with the provisions of this section, the more stringent provision shall control.

(g) The administration of this section shall be under the direction of the city transportation director or his designee who shall investigate violations, issue such notices and orders as are required herein, and perform such other duties as may be necessary to the enforcement hereof.

(h) Any obstruction to cross-visibility maintained in violation of this section shall be deemed to be a public nuisance inconsistent with and potentially detrimental to public safety and shall be abated in accordance with the following procedure:

  1. Upon the initial inspection of the intersection, the city transportation director or his designee shall leave a sight obstruction notice, identifying the obstruction item(s) to be trimmed or removed within the maximum time requirement of ten (10) days, at the premises upon which such obstruction exists.
  2. Following the ten (10) days, if the sight obstruction has not been removed, the city transportation director or his designee shall cause to be served by personal delivery or registered or certified mail a written notice and order of abatement upon the owner, tenant and-or person having legal control of the premises upon which such obstruction exists. A person who cannot with due diligence be served by personal delivery or registered or certified mail may be served by publication in the manner provided for service of process in G.S. 1A1, Rule 4(j1) of the North Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure.
  3. Such obstruction shall be removed within ten (10) days from the date of receipt, or ten (10) days from the date of the returned certified or registered mail stub or affidavit of publication.
  4. If compliance with such order by any person is disregarded, the city transportation director or his designee is hereby authorized to enter upon the premises in question and cause the removal and abatement of such obstruction by city services and/or independent contractor.
  5. Any person receiving such notice and order may, within ten (10) days from the receipt thereof, request, in writing, a hearing before the city transportation director or his designee. The hearing shall be held not later than ten (10) days following the date of the request. The city manager or the city transportation director shall then fix the date of the hearing and notify the person upon whom the notice and order has been served of the time and place of such meeting. If, after such hearing, the city manager or his designee finds the obstruction in question does in fact, constitute a public nuisance, the city transportation director or his designee may order that such nuisance be abated within ten (10) days from the date of such order. Upon failure by any person to comply with such order of the city manager or his designee, the city transportation director or his designee is hereby authorized to enter upon the premises in question and cause the removal and abatement of such obstruction by city forces and/or independent contractor.
  6. If any person receiving a written notice and order from the city transportation director does not comply with the order or does not respond or acknowledge certified mail attempt and does not request, in writing, a hearing before the city manager or his designee within said ten (10) days, the city transportation director or his designee is hereby authorized to enter upon the premises in question and cause the removal and abatement of such obstruction by city forces and/or an independent contractor.
  7. Upon the completion of such removal and abatement, the city transportation director or his designee shall deliver to the city tax collector a statement showing the actual cost of the abatement of the unlawful condition plus an additional fee of twenty-five dollars ($25.00) to cover the cost of notice and the cost of collection. The city tax collector shall thereupon mail to the owner of the subject property a bill covering the cost, if with reasonable diligence the name and address of such owner can be ascertained, and the amount of the bill shall become a lien upon said subject property, and if not paid within (30) days shall be collected as in the manner provided for collection of delinquent taxes.

(i) Any person who shall maintain or permit any such public nuisance and who shall fail, refuse or neglect to remove, destroy or otherwise eliminate such condition constituting such public nuisance as hereinbefore defined within the period prescribed by the director of public works (or his designee) or, in the event of an appeal, within the period prescribed by the city manager (or his designee) shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.

(j) In addition to the other remedies provided herein, the city shall be entitled to seek a judicial injunction and order of abatement or other equitable remedy to secure the enforcement of this section, regardless of whether the city manager has held or been requested to hold a hearing or the city manager or city council has declared the condition a nuisance.

(k) The foregoing procedure does not apply in emergency cases where it reasonably appears there is immediate danger to the life or safety of any person or to the safety of other property. In emergency cases, the city transportation director or his/her designee shall have the authority to immediately remove such obstruction and the cost of such removal shall be assessed against the property owner. Prior to taking the action, the city transportation director or his designee shall place a notice of the condition which constitutes a dangerous obstruction on the property giving the property owner two (2) days to remove the obstruction prior to the city's taking action.

(Code 1961, § 12-26; Ord. No. 00-230, §§ 1-6, 12-5-00; Ord. No. 05-163, §§ 1, 2, 7-19-05)
Cross references: Nuisances, Ch. 17; vegetation overhanging streets, etc., § 26-13.