Police jury votes to mandate lawn work

Published 11:46 pm Monday, October 8, 2007

VIDALIA — The owners of vacant lots in Concordia Parish are now required to cut the grass on their properties or face a fee of at least $400.

The Concordia Parish Police Jury voted Monday to adopt an ordinance that mandates property owners to keep the grass on their properties mowed or pay the jury to mow it.

The ordinance specifies that the jury will send one letter to the owner of the lot before the jury takes the matter into its hands and cuts the grass themselves.

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If the jury has to cut the grass themselves, the owner of the property will be subject to a $200 an hour fee with a two-hour minimum.

“These are developed vacant lots — lots that were developed for residential or commercial use — we’re talking about, not pastures,” President Melvin Ferrington said. “It’s a safety and a health issue — snakes, rats and mosquitoes can breed in the tall grass.”

The ordinance was adopted after a public hearing in which no members of the public spoke.

The grass growing in vacant lots has long been a problem, Ferrington said.

“We have sent letters and sent letters to the owners of these vacant lots, and nothing gets done,” he said. “Some of these lots have not been cut this year or last year.”

The owners of some of the problem properties live out of state, but have been willing in the past to work with the jury, Secretary Russell Wagoner said.

“It’s locals — those who live here — who are the problem,” he said.

Juror Willie Dunbar said one citizen in his district claimed to be using the grass in his lot to make hay.

“If you have to let your grass get 10 feet tall to make hay, that’s crazy,” Dunbar said.

After the ordinance was passed, Ferrington instructed Wagoner to contact the owners of properties the jury has had to warn before about the ordinance and let them know the ordinance is in place.

“Give them a fair amount of time to take care of the problem,” Ferrington said.

In other news:

4The jury approved a payment of $1,932.50 to Bryant Hammett and Associates for work the firm did during the jury’s annual survey of bridges.

4The jury approved transfers of $10,200 from the drainage maintenance fund to the general fund, $5,000 from the sales tax fund to the general fund and $10,000 from the general fund to the criminal court fund.