Let my stones stay
To the Editor:
What follows is a letter from the Edgartown selectmen to me, and my response. This is an issue that should be of interest to many residents in Edgartown:
Dear Ms. Probst:
A recent inspection of the front of your property indicates that there are several rocks at the border of the asphalt road and the grass in front of your house. These rocks are located on public property, within the road layout.
The Edgartown selectmen voted on August 16 to request that you remove these rocks from public property no later than October 1, 2010. A copy of the Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 86, Section 2 is included for your reference.
The rocks in question have been on the property approximately 10 years without a problem. They were questioned by the town at that time, and I was told that "the rocks can stay." Unfortunately, being many years ago, I do not recall with whom on the board I had contact.
The Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 86, Section 2 is ambiguous. I have seen rocks, larger boulders, fences right on the asphalt, stone walls, stone posts, signs, metal edging, dangerous high curbing where there is no sidewalk, and other obstructions within the road layout of North and South Summer streets, Cooke and Fuller streets, Pease's Point Way, Plantingfield Way, and many other streets in Edgartown. Also, the placement of some of these obstructions are not a safety issue, as is the case with me.
The rocks are a visual barrier that alerts the driver and keeps cars on the street away from me, my dogs, and anyone else that may be walking or standing there. An instant distraction could cause a driver to veer right, hitting someone standing or walking on that area. The situation has not changed in 10 years, but has become more hazardous due to the extension and change of position of the adjacent street parking space. I walk on that section of grass with my dogs against oncoming traffic a minimum of three times a day while taking them out. Also, I and my landscapers use the area between the rocks to work on plants along the fence. There were many tire marks on the grass before the rocks were placed there, which confirms my safety concern. It is not a safe place to be when cars and especially the larger trucks pass. They are very close to you.
The rocks are smooth and there are no sharp edges. They are evenly spaced and sized and serve the same purpose as metal poles with reflectors, which are an eyesore on residential property and can be a hazard, especially for bikers.
FYI, the following list is just a few of the properties that I have noted in my vicinity along with rocks and rock walls within the road layout on public property. (This list does not include properties with fences and other obstructions on public property, of which there are many. Included are addresses of 19 properties with rock or stone at private and public property boundary.)
I would like to know if registered letters have been sent to the other residents in Edgartown with obstructions located on public property, asking that they comply with Chapter 86, Section 2, or am I being discriminated against and harassed, since this is the third time I have been told to remove something while other properties are ignored.
I will willingly comply with your request when I receive evidence from you that you are not discriminating, and that you have also sent registered letters to the other residents of Edgartown with obstructions on public property within the road layout.
The rocks being a safety issue for me, I would like to request a special permit that would allow the rocks to remain in place, or else please consider the removal of both adjacent parking spaces, which would give traffic more room to pass, thus making it safer for everyone.