Cut the grass or pay up, city says

Published 11:58 pm Friday, April 22, 2011

VIDALIA — The smell of freshly cut grass is always a familiar summer scent reminding all those who breathe it in that the time of the year to mow and weed eat their own yards is here.

While many people strive to keep their yards clean, others don’t, and in Vidalia, residents who decide to skip out on their yard work my find their grass on the line.

The City of Vidalia has an ordinance on the books that states grass isn’t allowed to get taller than eight inches on lots inside city limits, and Mayor Hyram Copeland said the city will be strictly enforcing the ordinance this year.

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“We are going to make sure people follow the order,” he said.

Copeland said while the ordinance is in place to help the city remain clean, it is also there as a safety measure.

“Tall grass is a health hazard,” he said. “Things like mosquitoes, snakes and rodents stay in these unkempt lots.”

Copeland said the city has an officer that goes around to check the various heights of the grass in people’s yards, and if a yard is not compliant, the owners are sent a letter.

“The letter states that they have 10 days to cut their yard,” he said. “If they haven’t cut it after those 10 days then we send someone from the city to go out and cut it, and the landowner is sent the bill.”

Prior to September 2010 the bill for a landowner was $150 to have the city come in and cut their yard, but the prices had to be changed because many of the yards the city was cutting were large and required more money to cut.

Copeland and the aldermen passed an amended ordinance in September stating that the fee would still be $150 for lots 7,500 square feet or fewer but would raise to $175 for lots sized between 7,501 and 11,500 square feet and $200 for lots sized between 11,501 and 15,150 square feet.

A lot sized between 15,151 square feet and one acre would cost $300 and any lot over one acre in size would net a $400 cost.

Copeland said the city is working with the Vidalia Police Department to help keep the yards clean, and anyone who refuses to comply could face jail time.

“We have already sent one person to jail for refusing to comply with us,” he said. “We are really going to enforce this ordinance.”

The ordinance lists a fine of $250 and a maximum jail sentence of 30 days for anyone who refuses to comply.

Copeland said while the city will be working to keep yards clean, it is also working to clean up abandoned homes and vehicles in the city.

“We are trying to keep the city safe and clean,” he said.