A new ordinance was passed Monday night by the Coventry Town Council that will allow the issuance of citations to property owners who allow their grass to grow more than a foot tall.
The ordinance amends and supplements Chapter 180 of Coventry's Code of Ordinances, entitled "Peace and Good Order", which previously consisted of six sections relating to disturbing the peace, public intoxication, injuring or obstructing use of another's property, trespass, abandoned containers and burials.
Ordinance 180-7 states that "grass and weeds, excepting ornamental grasses, hedges, bushes, shrubs or similar plantings shall be maintained at a height of 12 inches or less in Residential 20 (R-20) zoning districts". The amendment applies to the entire property, including front, side and back yards. Exempt from the new ordinance are properties used for open space or recreation, wetlands, portions of property used for drainage swales, rain gardens or similar low-impact design techniques and agricultural operations.
Property owners who receive citations from the Town's Building Official will be given 10 days to correct the problem. If they do not comply within the 10-day period, an employee from the Department of Public Works will be sent to cut the grass and the Town will bill the property owner for the work performed. In the event that the bill remains unpaid for a period of time determined by Town Manager Thomas Hoover, a lien will be placed on the property. If the property owner is unable to pay the bill, no interest will be charged, however payment will be expected upon the sale/transfer of the property, or the death of its owner, whichever occurs first.
In addition, violations could be subject to penalty under Article 1, Section 1-2 of the Town's Code of Ordinances which indicates a maximum $500 fine or no more than 30 days imprisonment as an alternative to restitution to the Town.
According to Council President Gary Cote, the new ordinance was introduced following a number of complaints from residents regarding unkempt lawns negatively impacting the value of nearby properties.
The ordinance is meant to target abandoned, foreclosed and nuisance properties within the Town. Council member Ted Jendzejec explained that there will be exemptions to the ordinance for disabled or sick elderly residents or those experiencing hardships or medical issues.