Ordinance aims to cut down on overgrown properties

In News by Reporter News

April showers bring May flowers – plus a few complaints about overgrown properties.

The city may soon change its regulations on allowable grass height, with City Council set to address and possibly vote on an amended ordinance.

A vote on a first reading of the measure addressing overgrown grass within the city was postponed at council’s March 23 meeting, pending more clarity. The measure would require two readings before changes are finalized.

Under current regulations, the city doesn’t become involved until grass height reaches 12 inches. The revised policy would shorten that to 9 inches.

The majority of property owners do maintain and cut the grass, City Manager Clay Pearson said, but inevitably, some grass gets so high that the city must step in.

“This is an insurance policy intended to provide a minimum standard,” he said.

The vote was postponed so differences between residential yards and larger lots could be distinguished.

Former Councilman Larry Marcott is one citizen who feels owners of large tracts shouldn’t get a pass from keeping them cut.

“I’m concerned where it says we can have 9 inches of grass on a field up to the sidewalk or up to the curb, where you go into a subdivision or housing area and we’re mowing them at 3 inches and taking care of them,” he told council during the public comment session. “I don’t think it should be up to the curb. Landowners should be responsible for taking are of the frontage of their properties. We do it as citizens in our homes, why can’t the landowners?”

A “forced mow” is conducted on non-compliant properties, after which the city bills the owner. These are rare, according to Health and Environmental Services Division supervisor Marissa Vasquez.

“We usually get compliance after we send notices of violation,” she said. “We try to work with the public, and we do understand sometimes these large lots are mowed, it rains and it grows back the following weekend.”

It’s very rare, she said, that the city must go to court to collect fees for mowing.

Councilman Keith Ordeneaux made the motion to postpone the reading.

“Overall, I don’t want to see us become an HOA,” Ordeneaux said. “What bothers me most of all is – if I’m reading this correctly – if somebody mows their grass and clippings go inside walk or street, we can now ticket them for that.”

Staff responded that that restriction was meant to keep for 12-inch weeds from ending up in storm drains, but is not aimed at residential properties. In addition, larger properties also sometimes leave large clippings on sidewalks.

“We get complaints from people with a stroller or wheelchair trying to use the sidewalks,” Vasquez said.

Mayor Reid pointed out such things are a matter of common sense.

“I learned a long time ago when you mow, you don’t mow where it blows back into the street,” he said.

“Our intent was not for residential, so we probably can re-look at this,” Vasquez said.

Pearland City Council normally meets on the second and fourth Mondays of the month at City Hall. Public comment sessions are provided. For up-to-date meeting agendas, visit the city’s website, pearlandtx.gov.

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