Archive for Thursday, May 27, 2004

City to focus attention on weed, other ordinances

May 27, 2004

Those with knee-high grass, missing house or building numbers or some other ordinance violation probably got a red warning notice stuck to their doors sometime in the past few days.

Baldwin City codes enforcement staff has been out in force recently in an attempt to crack down on some of the ordinance violations around town.

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Tina Rakes, Baldwin's codes enforcement supervisor, said the ordinances being enforced aren't new. Instead, with two new enforcement positions created, she said, the city is now able to keep on top of the violations easier.

"Because we now have more employees, the community will now see the enforcement of rules that have been on the books for years and years," she said.

One of those ordinances deals with high grass and weeds.

Kathae Falley, Baldwin's new codes and safety inspector, said a number of people have been warned of their violations of the weed ordinance.

The city ordinance states grass will be kept below 12 inches at all times.

"But even less would be better," she said.

The reason for the ordinance, she said, is not only for aesthetics, but to keep mosquitoes, ticks, fleas and animals to a minimum.

"Otherwise, you're giving them a nice little environment to live in," Falley said.

Shorter grass, she said, also reduces the risk of fire when the rain stops and the grass starts to dry out.

Not only are residents responsible for their yards, she said, they must also maintain all alleys, sidewalks, easements and right-of-ways in the surrounding area.

Though the city will try to work with the land owners, especially when there has been a lot of rain, she said it is their responsibility to keep the grass mowed.

"We're homeowners," she said. "We have to keep our grass mowed, too."

Violators will receive a notice about the problem, and have 10 days to rectify the situation. If after that time period, they are still in violation of the ordinance, citations could be issued, usually for 150 percent of what the city would be billed if someone was hired to mow the yard.

Another ordinance the city will be enforcing is the numbering of houses and buildings.

Dusty Neely, Baldwin's electrical inspector and electrical technician, said all houses and buildings must display their addresses in five inch letters on the front, making them visible from the road.

"The primary reason we're so concerned with the numbering of buildings is for emergency services, so they can easily find the addresses," he said.

"Currently, there are many houses in town where numbers are not on buildings," he said.

Other ordinances city staff will be making sure are enforced include inoperable vehicles in yards, debris and visual nuisances, and improper sign postings.

Neely said codes enforcement staff aren't trying to be difficult, but instead enforce ordinances that residents should have already been following.

"All of these things we're enforcing were established by the governing body," he said.

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