Mowing season isn’t even in full swing and some village officials are fed up with some property owners’ lack of maintenance responsibility.
“I have just one thing to say to these property owners: “Mow your lawns,” Genoa Village Administrator Kevin Gladden said.
Gladden sent notices recently to at least five repeat offenders. In some sites, the grass had reached at least 18 inches – the cutoff for village intervention. But Genoa crews try to get in sooner for lawn work when warnings go unheeded.
“Eighteen inches is just unmanageable,” Gladden said, noting the wear cutting tall grass has on the mower blades and rest of the machinery.
Village crews just spent recent days mowing the lawns. And the $75 per hour cost racked up on the first violation will be applicable to the second and third visits, with penalties included. The property owner could eventually be cited for a misdemeanor infraction and called into Ottawa County Municipal Court. The fine could be up to $300. What isn’t settled by September will be put on the tax assessments of the property owners, Gladden explained.
The extra mowing details also put village crews behind on their regular work schedule. Gladden hopes to use part-time summer help for future jobs instead of the $20-an-hour or more employees currently on staff receive.
“It’s just frustrating that these people basically abandon their property and don’t take care of it,” Gladden said. “A few of the property owners live in town at other residences and others live in adjacent communities. They just don’t seem to care.”
Oak Harbor is having similar grass growing pains.
Close to 18 warning letters were sent out regarding property maintenance violations – a number of which revolve around high grass complaints. Other issues investigated include upkeep of various buildings on the land such as houses, garages and sheds.
All the cases are complaint driven.
“If we drove around just looking for that stuff, that is all we would do,” Village Administrator Randy Genzman said during a telephone interview this week.
The letters kick off a series of communication efforts the village makes before advancing to the citation level. “We realize it was a pretty soggy spring and things were pretty wet. We are willing to work with people,” Genzman said.
But the time has come to take care of these problems, especially the high grass, he added. Residents with more involved problems can show the village good faith by coming up with an action plan.
The cost imposed by Oak Harbor varies, depending on what employee is cutting the grass.
“It’s basically wages and cost of benefits plus a charge for the machine itself,” Genzman said.
The maintenance issues were discussed in passing at a recent Oak Harbor Council meeting.
Oak Harbor Councilman Jon Fickert noted that before the village asked for citations for residents that they should make sure village property is held to the same standard.
He was talking specifically about the solar panel site managed by the solar company in partnership with the village. Fickert said the grass there hadn’t been mowed either this season and looked bad.
Oak Harbor leaders had the same trouble last year when repeated requests for the company to deal with the problem went unanswered. Months passed before lawn crews were sent in to tidy up the place.
“If we are passing out property maintenance citations, then we need to take care of that,” Fickert said.