Towns enforce grass ordinance

Published 10:53 am Tuesday, July 3, 2018

As summer gears up, the towns of Victoria and Kenbridge are working to maintain the area’s grass levels through ordinances held by both towns.

The Town of Victoria’s Vegetable Growth Detrimental to Public Health ordinance, Town Manager Rodney Newton said, allows “yards with grass over 10 (inches) in height (to) be cited for violation of this ordinance.”

Newton said Victoria Police Department is responsible for citing yards not in compliance.

The ordinance first reported in the Dispatch in 2016, states, “It shall be a misdemeanor for any person who owns or occupies property within the town to permit any grass, plants, bushes, weeds or any other vegetation 10 inches high or over, other than trees, shrubbery, agricultural plants, garden vegetables, flowers or ornamental plants, to exist on the property.”

Newton said the citations are typically given between the months of May and September, during the times when grass cutting season is underway. He said the process begins with a citation notice placed on the door of the residence notifying the occupants of the violation.

“The occupants are given a period of time to correct the violation,” Newton said. “If upon follow up checks by the police department the violation has been corrected no further action is taken. If the violation is not corrected a letter will be sent to the owner of record with another notice of violation.”

Newton said if necessary, “town forces may be directed to cut the grass. If this occurs the cost of cutting the grass along with an administrative fee are charged to the property owner. These charges can be placed against the property similar to taxes.”

Newton said in the month of June, the town has issued approximately 21 citations.

Newton said undeveloped lots and farmland can be exceptions to the this ordinance.

Kenbridge Town Manager Robyn Fowler provided the town’s policy on grass levels from the town code.

Chapter 8, section 8-19 of the code cites that grass, weeds or other foreign growth on vacant, developed or undeveloped property cannot exceed 12 inches in height.

“The owners of such vacant, developed or undeveloped property in the town in violation of this section shall cut the grass, weeds and other foreign growth on such property,” the code cites. After reasonable notice, the town is allowed to intervene and have its employees or agencies cut the grass on the property.

The code cited that the expenses and cost of cutting the grass on the property would be charged to the owner of the property and collected by the town as taxes.

Fowler said the town sent seven notifications since May “letting property owners know they are not in compliance of the ordinance,” Fowler said. “Almost all have complied and cut their grass within the time frame given. If they don’t, then the town cuts it and sends an invoice at the rate of $150/hour. If that is not paid, a lien may be placed on the property.”