City amends tall grass ordinance

By Scott Halasz - [email protected]

XENIA — Property owners in the city will only be notified once if the grass on their lot exceeds the 10-inch height limit and they will pay a higher administrative fee.

Those are two of several changes to the maintenance code city council enacted March 14. The entire property maintenance code is under review by the law and planning and zoning departments, but officials felt addressing the grass cutting needed to be addressed sooner.

Currently, owners are notified each time before the city sends a contractor to mow grass on a property in code violation. But that f0rced the city to hire a seasonal code enforcement officer every year at a cost of $10,000. Five days after the notice is posted, the city is able to mow.

Under the change, the property owner will be mailed a notice after the first violation only. If the city discovers other tall grass violations, it can proceed with having the grass mowed without notice.

“It was an additional cost to our taxpayers,” Law Director Donnette Fisher said of the way the previous code was written.

The city will also publish the requirements in the Gazette and post on the city’s website by April 1 each year.

Property owners will be invoiced for mowing along with an administrative fee of $150, up $50 from previous years. An additional fee of $50 will be charged if the invoice is not paid and it must be assessed to the property tax bill.

The city spends between $20,000 and $25,000 annually to mow, but it only recoups about 50-75 percent of what is invoiced, according to Planning Director Brian Forshner. Expenses also include the code enforcement officers and members of the finance department.

In 2018 nearly $91,000 was assessed and only $42,500 has been collected.

The amendment also changed wording to allow the city to better deal with trees and shrubs that are overgrown and neglected. Previously only dead, decayed, or broken trees and shrubs were part of the code. Now, all trees and shrubs that could cause hazards or blighting influences must be trimmed.

Owners of vacant lots more than 10,000 square feet could benefit from one change requiring how much must be mowed near developed property. They must now only mow grass with a 50-foot setback from developed land. Previously it was 100 feet.

“It didn’t really seem that 100 feet was really necessary,” Forshner said.

The rest of the vacant property must be mowed at least twice per year, on or before April 30 and in September, on or before Sept. 30.

By Scott Halasz

[email protected]

Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.

Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.