October 14, 2016

Court of Appeals Enforces Covenant Restricting Height of Trees and Hedges

The Washington Court of Appeals recently issued an unpublished opinion indicating that a row of trees violated a covenant restricting "hedges" to a height of six feet or less. The parties own property in a neighborhood on Whidbey Island that is built on a slope and that provides views of the Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains.  Trees on downhill property blocked uphill property views, causing the uphill property owners to file a lawsuit arguing that the trees constituted a hedge in violation of a restrictive covenant.  The trial court ordered the downhill property owners to cut certain trees to a height of six feet or less, and those owners appealed.

The Court of Appeals noted that one definition of "hedge" is "a boundary formed by a row of trees planted close together."  The Court decided that the row of trees constituted a "hedge" under the terms of the restrictive covenant and that it was therefore subject to the height restriction.  The Court emphasized that the scenic location and views are an important part of the value of the properties and that protecting views is in the homeowners' collective interest.