Council OKs fines for litter, weeds

Marietta City Council passed a fee schedule Thursday that will enable fines for weeds and litter on properties within city limits.

“We want to be able to use this by April 1 when the grass begins to become an issue in town,” said Sarah Snow, R-at large. “Both our ad-hoc committees came back in support of this and I feel it is necessary in order for our code enforcement official to do his job.”

Litter may include any garbage, ashes, cans, bottles, wire, oil, paper, cartons, boxes, parts of automobiles, furniture, glass or anything else of an unsightly or unsanitary nature accumulated on the front or back yard of a property within the city.

City codes also say that all grass and weeds be trimmed to at most six inches between April 1 and Oct. 31 of each year. Furthermore, property owners and those who rent must cut said greenery at least six times per year between those dates.

“I’m so glad we passed this because we have the same reoccurring problem every year and multiple times a year by the same properties,” said Tom Vukovic, D-4th ward. “I get calls about the same properties for grass that is so high that snakes and vermin become a problem.”

Now, a fine of $25 will be levied for the first offense cited by the city’s code enforcement official, Wayne Rinehart, for properties in violation. Then, if within 24 months of the first citation another is issued, an additional $50 will be levied against the property owner.

A third and all subsequent citations within that same 24 months will incur an additional $100 fine each.

When an owner is issued a fine, they will have 10 days to pay the charge and correct the nuisance before that cost is added to a bill with the cost that the city incurs to mitigate in-house.

“Hopefully this will catch the attention of those repeat offenders and absentee landlords,” said Rinehart.

Two other similar pieces of legislation concerning property maintenance within the city were also introduced.

The first, was an ordinance to assess similar fees to violation of the city’s current property maintenance code.

Likewise, the proposed residential rental housing property registry was introduced.

If passed, the registry serve as the first line of communication between Rinehart and landlords who are ultimately responsible by law for the maintenance of their properties. It would also allow Rinehart to step onto a property to validate a complaint.

“The (code enforcement ad-hoc) committee thought there are other ways to obtain this information that could be explored rather than creating a new law,” Jon Grimm, chair of the committee, said before the legislation was read.

Both topics will be further discussed at the next Planning, Zoning and Annexation Committee on March 28 at 5 p.m. in room 10 of the Armory, located at 241 Front St.

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