Ask Covenant Cat – Cracks in the Sidewalk

Cov Cat and Friend

Ever vigilant, Covenant Cat and his friend scan the sidewalk carefully for any cracks caused by street trees.

This periodic “advice column” addresses common questions about the Hickory Ridge village covenants and other property maintenance concerns. To keep it interesting, your questions are answered by a local feline who is surprisingly well-versed in covenant issues. This cat may or may not be an overweight orange tabby named Boo Boo that lives with the Village Manager. Send your burning questions to

Dear Covenant Cat:

Settle a bet for me—my neighbor says I have to maintain the sidewalk in front of my house—I say it’s the County’s job. Who is correct?

                                   -Determined on Dovecote

Dear Determined:

UnFURtunately, this is a complicated issue that can confuse many residents. The responsibility for maintenance of the Howard County right-of-way (the sidewalk and the strip of grass between that and the street) is shared between the homeowner and the County. Homeowners must mow the grass, rake any leaves, and remove snow from the sidewalk. The County is responsible for major sidewalk repairs and County-planted trees in this area (commonly known as “street trees.”).

If street trees are affecting your purrsonal property you can trim them yourself as outlined in “the Massachusetts Rule” for tree trimming (Google it!). If major tree work needs to be done, call the Howard County Bureau of Highways to request it. If your sidewalk or driveway has been damaged due to tree roots, the County will fix it IF a street tree is the cause. If the problem tree is on your property, you are responsible for the repair. As I said before—it’s complicated. If you have a purroblem in the County right-of-way and aren’t sure what to do, call the village office. Village staff can help you determine who is responsible and can advocate on your behalf if necessary. As fur your bet, I guess it’s a draw—or should I say CLAW?

Hugs and Kittens,

Covenant Cat


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