America the Messy Yard Police State
Peoria, Illinois ups citations for unkempt yardsSource
Illinois town ups citations for unkempt yards
PEORIA, Ill. — Residents of the Illinois town of Peoria may want to take time this weekend to mow their lawns.
That's because the city has boosted the number of citations for unruly grass by more than 73 percent this year.
Those fines begin at $30 but can escalate to as much as $500 for grass that's at least 10 inches tall.
Records show the city has issued 1,069 citations so far this. That's up from 617 the city gave out through May of 2009.
Code enforcement manager Linda Lard says the city is handing out more citations for unmowed grass because of an increase in foreclosures and abandoned property.
Officials have also issued about 2 percent more work orders to have private property mowed. That costs about $70.
Information from: Journal Star, http://pjstar.com
Peoria cracking down on neglected lawns
By JOHN SHARP (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Posted May 28, 2010 @ 09:29 PM
Memorial Day weekend is for barbecues, swimming pools, and mowing your lawn.
Mowing? That doesn't sound like much fun during a holiday weekend.
If you are one of the many city landowners who have neglected their lawns this year, you had better schedule time to cut it during this sunny weekend. The city is issuing tickets.
So far this year, the city has issued 1,400 work orders to have private properties mowed and 1,069 citations that begin at $30.
Last year through May, the city issued 1,375 work orders and only 617 citations. The city issues approximately 4,000 citations annually on property owners who neglect to mow their lawns.
Increases in foreclosures throughout Peoria in the past two years is one of the reasons given for the stepped up enforcement, said Linda Lard, the city's code enforcement manager.
"My guess would be there are more properties folks have walked away from," Lard said Friday. "They are not concerned about the property anymore, so we're stepping up the citations to make them aware that you are still responsible for that property."
Tickets are generally given to repeat offenders, she added, and most of the offenders are owners of vacant properties. Fines can escalate up to $500.
Work orders aren't cheap, either. If the city pays someone to have a private property mowed, on average, it will cost $70. Although the city has stepped up enforcement, last year the City Council, through budget cuts, eliminated one inspector position. In addition, the city's 13 inspection zones were consolidated into 12.
"It potentially could take a day or two longer to respond to a complaint or to find a violation," Lard said.
Many communities throughout the Tri-County Area have personnel armed with yardsticks measuring grass to see if it's sprouting beyond what the ordinances allow.
In Peoria, that's 10 inches and other communities, such as Morton and Germantown Hills, have stricter ordinances with grass height limits less than 10 inches.
In the rural areas of Peoria County, there is no grass height limit, said Matt Wahl, the director of Planning & Zoning, largely because of the impossibility to regulate vast amounts of agricultural property.
The county typically addresses unkept lawns in the more urbanized areas of the county if there are other property maintenance issues, such as litter, he said. Even then, the county only responds if a complaint is filed.
"It's not proactive, because we cover over 500 square miles of area," Wahl said.
In Peoria, city inspectors issue warning letters once the grass grows 10 inches or more. If the warning is not addressed, within five days, the city will issue an abate notice, giving the owner another five days to mow. If the lawn still isn't taken care of, the city issues a work order to have it mowed by a contractor.
May has been soggier than normal this year, making the mowing problem worse. Peoria has had 6.03 inches of rain so far this month, or about 2 1/2 inches more than normal.
Some council members have received complaints.
"I've had five to six calls on vacant lots that have not been mowed," 5th District City Councilman Dan Irving said. "People have been busy and with the timing. ... It's been a little wet lately. But they seem to be taking responsibility (for their yards)."
At-large City Councilman Jim Montelongo said he will wait and see if unkept yards are taken care of after the holiday weekend.
"I'd like to see what happens in the next week or two," he said.
John Sharp can be reached at 686-3282 or email@example.com.