Prairie Township residents will spend a lot less time looking at properties with high grass this summer.
House Bill 393, passed on June 18, changed notice requirements in the process Ohio townships use for nuisance abatement.
Township Administrator, Tracy Hatmaker, has stated that nuisances in Prairie generally deal with high grass and trash build up.
The prior process used for notifying a property owner, according to Prairie Township zoning inspector, Connie Swisher, is sending certified letters. The letters must be sent seven days before the grass is mowed or trash is cleaned up by the township at the owner's expense. Notices can also be placed on the doors of homes or other structures on the same land parcel.
“Right now we are sending certified letters and we have (to wait) to get the certified letters back. This process can take up to three weeks,” said Swisher.
Hatmaker said Prairie had 32 pending nuisances to address at the June 30 board of trustees meeting and because of the season, a large number of the reports are due to tall grass.
Township trustee, Steve Kennedy, said the trustees drove around and checked properties before the meeting and could confirm that 14 of the 32 properties had been mowed.
Swisher said the new law allows the township to send one first-class mail notification if the township has already notified the property owner once by using the certified mail process within a 12 month period. After the first-class mail is sent, the township must wait 4 days before abating the nuisance.
Many of the homes with high grasses in the summer are vacant properties, according to Swisher and Hatmaker, so this law would mean less waiting.
“This should shorten this process drastically on these vacant homes that are just sitting there,” said Swisher.
Swisher said the law also allows the township to post a nuisance notice on the township website or in an obvious place at township hall, likely the lobby. This part of the law change will help with instances when the property owner information is unknown or cannot be reasonably obtained.
Swisher said the only reason a certified mail notification must still be used within 12 months after a previous nuisance notification is in a case where ownership or the mortgage company connected to the property has changed.
"We just have to keep track of what we have had the whole year," said Swisher.
Swisher urged residents to report properties with high grass, "We want to get nuisance reports now so we don't have to do this process again, especially with the vacants," she said.