• 72°

Coal Grove OKs fee for unkempt yards

COAL GROVE — Just because a house is unoccupied doesn’t mean its yard may be overgrown and filled with trash.

That is the message the Coal Grove Village Council was trying to convey recently when it changed its ordinance regarding maintenance of unkempt yards.

The council amended the ordinance to state that if village workers clean up a yard by removing trash or cutting weeds, the yard’s owner will be charged $200.

The fine is a change from an older ordinance, which called for the property owner to be charged the “actual cost” of the weeds or trash removal plus an accrued interest of 6 percent by the year. Under the amended ordinance, the owner will be charged the same amount of interest along with the fine.

Councilman Aaron Stewart said the council wanted to ensure the village recovers the cost for manpower, gasoline and upkeep of equipment that it uses to clean up unkempt yards.

“We wanted something that was high enough that it would discourage banks and people to want us to do it and at the same time we wanted to be fair,” Stewart said.

In addition to the new charge for maintenance, having overgrown weeds or piles of trash or junk in a yard is a misdemeanor punishable by a $200 fine.

The Ironton City Health department charges a similar fee of about $200 for mowing grass and removing garbage from lawns, though the total cost depends on how many bags of trash the department hauls away.

The fine will be collected through taxes.

The ordinance specifically prohibits weeds like poison ivy, ragweed, and thistle as well as any weeds or plants that have grown to 12 inches or taller.

The village sends out written notice to land owners in violation of the ordinance and requires them to become compliant within 10 days.

If the owner neglects or refuses to comply with the ordinance the village is authorized to either pay for the yard to be cleaned up or to remove the weeds.

Most of the lawns the village has had to clean up are in front of bank-owned or otherwise abandoned houses, he said.

“Money is really tight right now and it’s unfair to the people that are taking care of their property to have a repossessed house right next to them,” Stewart said.