Edgy rules proposed in N. Charleston

Mick and Colleen Dunkley want North Charleston to make its sidewalks more pedestrian-friendly, requiring homeowners to maintain them.

North Charleston City Council will be considering a cutting-edge ordinance Thursday night.

Specifically, the ordinance would require city property owners — residents and businesses — to edge the grass and cut the shrubs along sidewalks adjoining their properties.

“Getting people to edge their sidewalks and keep them clean, it’s a problem, and we get some complaints,” said Councilman Bob King, who proposed the regulation.

At a recent committee meeting of the council, most members supported the idea, but it was not without controversy.

“If you are my age, or older, I’m not getting out there and edging,” Councilwoman Dot Williams said. “I don’t have an edger.”

Residents who live in subdivisions with homeowners associations already deal with such lawn-related scrutiny, often facing fines if they don’t keep their properties looking just so. But in the city at large, current rules simply require people to keep their grass from getting more than a foot high.

The problem, according to King and supporters of his plan, is that residents might cut the grass but not take the extra step of edging the sidewalk.

Olde Village resident Mick Dunkley said he and his wife Colleen, both retirees, see the problems all the time.

“We go out daily for a walk and see the sidewalks,” he said. “Some of them are in such a dreadful state.”

Shrubberies encroach, grass creeps across pavement, and in some cases dirt covers the path entirely.

“North Charleston is really a delightful place to live, particularly where we are, in Park Circle,” said Mick Dunkley. “I just think they should maintain a certain standard.”

In a yard not terribly far away, Gaffney Street resident Silas Odell said the main problem he sees is a lack of city maintenance. He notes that the city, not the property owners, own the sidewalks, and doesn’t support the proposed ordinance.

“I would prefer that they don’t pass it,” Odell said. “It’s just one more thing I would have to do.”

If the regulation is approved, city code enforcement officers would gain the power to fine property owners who don’t edge the sidewalks.

In another yard-beautification move, King has proposed that the city prohibit people from keeping boats or recreational vehicles in their front yards or on the right-of-way in front of their properties. That idea, also discussed in a committee meeting, drew concerns from some council members and from Mayor Keith Summey, who sent the plan off to be studied by a committee.

“Gosh, if we tell people they can’t do this there will be 3,000 boats for sale,” Councilman Todd Olds remarked at the time.

The sidewalk edging ordinance will be considered at a meeting that begins at 7 p.m. at City Hall.

“Is it enough of a problem that we need to pass an ordinance? I think it is,” King said.

Reach David Slade at 937-5552 or Twitter @DSladeNews.