Not mowing your lawn just will not cut it in Woodward.

In fact, there are even city ordinances which address overgrown lawns.

Ordinance 92.32 states: “No person owning real property or in possession of real property as a tenant or otherwise shall allow excessive grass or weeds to accumulate on the property by failure to mow or otherwise control and dispose of the same, thus constituting a fire, safety or health hazard on the premises.”

Woodward Fire Marshal Todd Finley is the one responsible for inspecting possible violations and issuing citations when needed.

After Finley becomes aware of a complaint, he will drive by and inspect the property, which includes taking pictures of the violations.

Violations can include grass which has grown over 12 inches tall or which can harbor rodents, snakes or other undesirable animals.

If there is a violation, Finley sends a certified letter to the appropriate person, which includes a copy of the picture he took during his investigation. After receiving the letter, the tenant or property owner then has 10 days to respond to his office to let him know how they will resolve the situation.

If no response is made within those 10 days, Finley will go out and write a citation or arrange to have a city crew take care of the property.

Either way, the tenant or property owner is looking at some expensive costs.

The citation fee is $144. And if the city crews have to come out then you are looking at fees for labor, equipment, administrative costs and more. Until those fees are paid, a lien is placed on the property.

Finley said the city’s goal is not to empty people’s pocketbooks, but rather to ensure they take care of their own responsibilities.

“The idea is not for us to write tickets or to mow their lawns,” he said. “The idea is for them to take care of it themselves.”

It is not easy or cheap for the city to deal with this problem. Finley said postage alone to send out all the certified letters costs the city, or rather the fire department, $2,000 or more a year.

That is money which could be used to purchase more safety equipment for the firefighters, but is instead used to try to get people to do their chores, he said.

But because of the health and safety risks associated with tall grass, Finley said the city will still step in when needed.

With all the rains lately, Finley said the issue is even more of a problem than in years past.

Finley usually averages approximately 200 cases a year, most of those throughout the summer. However, he has already exceeded that much this year and summer is not even half over.

And while he understands that rains have caused problems for a lot of people, Finley does not think they should be an excuse. To him, mowing the lawn is just another responsibility that comes with owning or renting property.

“It’s like paying rent,” he said. “You have to do it.”

Finley said some people try to argue that it is their property and they can do what they want.

They fail to realize that their property does not just affect them. The hazards that accumulated grass poses can affect others in the neighborhood, he said.

City Commissioner Roscoe Hill said the neighbors have a right to be protected from those hazards.

He also believes they have a right to not have to look at the mess.

For Hill, it is a pride issue. He thinks that as citizens should have more pride in their city and try to keep it looking as nice as possible.

He said having so many places with such high weeds is “a bad reflection on the city.”

“You don’t have to drive very far around this town to see weeds up to your knees,” he said,

For those who do not want to bother to try to keep their place up, Hill even offered to buy their property. He said he can cut the lawn and then sell the property for twice as much.

Ultimately Hill hopes that everyone will just fulfill their own responsibilities.

“If responsible for it, just get it done,” he said.

However, if you know someone who is not getting things done, you can contact Finley about violations. He said you can also remain anonymous if you wish. You can either call him at 254-8574 or e-mail tfinley@cityofwoodward.com.

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