The village is begrudgingly entering the landscaping business.
Frustrated by the number of unkempt lawns and property owners’ indifference toward addressing the problem, the village is moving forward with a plan to mow the lawns itself and recoup costs from owners.
“I’m fed up, and at this point, I’ve had enough,” said Mayor Peter Telisky, referring to the number of property owners who have refused to mow their lawns despite repeated requests by the village to do so.
“It’s going to take a little extra work on our part, but they will be billed for all our expenses,” he said.
According to village law, the lawns on any property within the village cannot exceed a height of ten inches or get so long that is emits a noxious odor or conceal debris.
The law states that it is the duty of the owner, lessor or occupant of any property to ensure that their grass is kept in accordance with the law.
There are, however, a number of properties within the village in violation of the law. A property on First Avenue appears as if the grass hasn’t been mowed this year and a tree is growing from the base of the porch.
The village has compiled a list of additional properties that haven’t been maintained.
Besides looking bad, the high grass is a potential safety hazard, harboring rodents and providing additional tinder in the event of a fire, officials said. It can also lower the value of the surrounding homes.
The village has in the past, attempted to address the issue but it has continued to occur.
“It’s the same people every time. I can call one month and then I’d have to call again next month,” said Garry Bennett, code compliance officer.
One of the problems officials face are some of the properties in violation have been abandoned or foreclosed and it can be difficult to find who is responsible and trying to get banks to address the problem is often met with mixed results.
Unable to achieve much success in compelling property owners to mow their lawns, officials consulted the village’s attorney, Tony Jordan, who said the village has the right to enter a person’s property and address the problem itself.
Other communities in the county have had similar problems and Granville, like Whitehall, will have public works employees mow lawns that are in violation of local code ordinances.
“The whole county is dealing with this,” Telisky said.
Letters will be mailed to property owners notifying them they are in violation of village law. They will then be given seven days to remedy the situation. If they fail to do so, the village will reserve the right to come on the property and mow the lawn itself.
“Knocking down the grass doesn’t mean you’re done. You have to remove all the old grass clipping as well,” Bennett said.
Property owners will then be billed for labor and use of equipment. Telisky said the cost could easily exceed $200 and violators could also be subject to fines of up to $250 every day the property is in violation.
Letters were expected to be mailed by this week.
The village authorized payment for services rendered by North Country Property Management.
Officials withheld payment earlier this month because they felt the company did not mow and maintain the Boardman Street Cemetery to the extent outlined in its contract.
But crews returned and mowed the parcel to the village’s satisfaction and received payment for two of the mowings. The village withheld one payment, for the first mowing done this season, until trustee Marge Mohn speaks with the company’s owner.
Public Hearings set
The village will hold a public hearing on July 2 to discuss a proposed change to laws governing sidewalks in the village.
Officials have proposed changing the amount of fines for people who encumber village sidewalks.
The current fine is $3 and $2 for each subsequent day that a sidewalk is blocked. Officials would like to change those fines to $50.
Officials will also hold a public hearing on a small cities grant application. That meeting has been scheduled for July 2 as well.