by SC Reporter Wendy McMullen
Sanibel’s edict that sod should be placed in the rights of way on the edges of roads was challenged at Tuesday’s council meeting by Natural Resources Director Holly Milbrandt who presented some more eco-friendly alternatives.
Sod, usually grown grass that you roll out and plant, was the ground cover recommended by public works engineer Oisin Dolley and currently required by the city because it is quick and easy to put down, meets traffic safety considerations and, once established, is easy to maintain in normal conditions.
Millbrandt, however, suggested more colorful native plants that could be easily maintained and did not need water or fertilization; among them Sunshine Mimosa, Matchweed, Golden Creeper and Perennial Peanut. Promoting the use of native plants, she said, was a more natural infrastructure practice.
The public rights of way are easements which may extend 15 to 20 feet off the of the side of the road and allow access for utilities and, strictly speaking, require a permit for trees or bushes which may restrict or block the view of traffic.
The rights of way exist on all public roads whether they are arterial or local and they are typically 15 to 25 feet from the center of the road on both sides of the street. Maintenance is the responsibility of the homeowners’ associations or the private property owner, except in particular circumstances or on the medians between the bike path and the road.
City staff are looking into the various alternatives to sod.