Policies – Roadside Vegetation Management

The roadside serves many purposes. It provides space to escape potential accidents, creates a sense of openness that contributes to driving ease and freedom from strain, improves sight distances, provides space for maintenance activities, such as snow removal and storage, and provides an area that allows for proper road drainage. The commission has instituted policies to help keep these areas reasonably clear.

Tree removal and Pruning

Road Commission of Kalamazoo County (RCKC) will address trees that are found to be within the portion of the highway right-of-way that is designed for vehicular travel (i.e. a tree that falls within the traveled portion of the road) upon reasonable notice.  RCKC may remove trees from the public right-of-way that is not designed for vehicular travel, but has the discretion not to do so.  RCKC is entitled to remove trees from any portion of the public right-of-way for public use purposes including for road maintenance and construction activities, drainage improvements or creation of a clear zone.

Fallen trees within the traveled portion of the right-of-way will be moved outside of the road right-of-way to adjacent property when possible (except in those instances where RCKC holds title to the entire road right-of-way).  The relocated fallen trees will be left for the property owner’s use and/or disposal. Within fifteen (15 days) of a fallen tree being relocated, the property owner may complete and submit a request that the fallen tree moved by RCKC, county, municipal or township police, fire, emergency or public utility personnel be cut and stacked adjacent to the public right-of-way, or may request that it be removed. 

If a property owner seeks to have a tree that is located in the public right of way, removed, trimmed or pruned, RCKC permission must be sought and granted through a permit application process before the owner engages in any such removal.  The permit application fee may be waived at RCKC's discretion.

In situations arising from a road improvement project, the property owner may complete a tree removal notification form to request that any trees to be removed be cut and stacked adjacent to the public right-of-way, or may request that it be removed. 

Brush Removal and Control

It is the policy of this Board to control and remove brush, in accordance with the Board's tree pruning and removal policy; to accomplish the work in an integrated approach using hand cutting, mechanical devices and herbicides; and to complete the work annually on approximately one-fourth of RCKC’s roadsides on a rotating basis (excluding plat streets).  For the purposes of this policy, brush is defined as woody plant growth such as volunteer trees, low hanging limbs, shrubs and stump growth.

Brush control and removal by RCKC, either by mechanical means or hand cutting, will be limited by the physical and cost constraints of available equipment, personnel, and funds for this purpose.  Priority will be by road system, with the primary roads having the highest priority.  Within road system classifications, the hazard exposure created by the brush will be used as the primary factor in establishing site or area priority.  Maintaining clear vision at driveway access points will be the responsibility of the individual property owner.                   

Property owners may remove brush and low hanging limbs at minimum fourteen (14) feet up and fourteen (14) feet away from the traveled portion of the right-of-way with RCKC permission prior to the time frame specified RCKC.  If the roadside vegetation control efforts have not been accomplished within the permitted time frame, an application of an herbicide may occur.   Property owners are encouraged to maintain their property abutting the road right-of-way by removing roadside brush and low hanging limbs in the time frame specified by RCKC for this activity only with the required permit application process. 

Roadside Weed Control

Weeds grow naturally along gravel or paved surface edges. To keep them from invading the traveled portion of the road, RCKC uses mowing or the application of an herbicide approved by state and federal agencies.