June 10, 2010

Letters Set to Mail for Public Nuisance Grass Issues

If the walk to the mailbox entails passing through grass that is more than 12 inches tall in the city of Memphis, property owners may be receiving correspondence from the police department.

Following the June meeting of the Memphis City Council, the police department was authorized to begin sending letters to properties found out of compliance with city code regarding nuisance issues such as tall grass.

Section 220.120 of the Memphis City Code states: “All persons owning or occupying any lot or tract of land in the City shall keep the weeds, high grass and other vegetation growing on such property cut and removed.”

The city code sets the limit at 12 inches, meaning weeds, grass or other uncontrolled vegetation taller than one foot in height may be considered a public nuisance.

Such nuisance issues are generally identified by a citizen complaint.

When following up on the complaint, if the police department identifies the property as being in non-compliance, a public hearing date is set within 10 days of the delivery of a complaint letter to the property owner.

If the situation is not rectified within the 10 days of the notice period and the following five-day grace period, the city has the power to have the vegetation cut and removed.

The cost of having the property mowed is then assessed to the property owner as a special tax liability.

The property owner can also be ticketed for a misdemeanor. Failure to adhere to the city order to abate the nuisance situation means the property owner can face additional charges for every day the weeds or grass are not brought into compliance. The code states that each day on which the violation continues shall constitute a separate offense.

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