Mowing neglected properties time consuming for township


By Linda Dillman
Staff Writer

More than two decades ago, Madison Township started a lawn care program, albeit at a hefty cost to property owners, to mow neglected yards riddled with noxious weeds, trash or high grass.

Twenty years later, under the township’s assessment program, road department employees continue to spend time—billed at $300 an hour—on yard work for properties located primarily in Blacklick Estates predominantly owned by individuals or banks.

Collections are slow and it often takes years for the township to recoup costs.

Neighbors, elected officials and township staff routinely check properties throughout the township. Owners are given 10 days to remedy the situation after notification by the township, but if they do not respond, road department crews are dispatched with mowers and weed eaters.

If there is a second incident, property owners are given five days to comply before the township steps in and takes care of the problem.

“An average time is about an hour at a rate of $300 an hour,” said Madison Township Road Superintendent Dave Weaver.

According to Weaver, one property accepted into the Central Ohio Community Investment Corporation land bank and later demolished is a multi-year repeat offender.

“We have been mowing it for more than 16 years,” said Weaver.

Although the on-site house was torn down, the township still maintains the vacant lot. Likewise, bills continue to pile up for many other properties throughout the township. Mowing and trash assessments reported in July alone for five properties totaled $1,735.

Road crews must balance township-related projects such as road repair and right-of-way mowing with hours devoted to assessment mowing.

“It varies from one hour to 32 hours, more if we have a wet year,” said Weaver. “It puts a large drain on the staff at public works and administration between inspections, paperwork and mowing.”

In tracking general numbers since 2010, Madison Township Fiscal Officer Barb Adams said the township received $60,325 in assessment revenue. Some assessments are paid directly to the township, but most are paid through the Franklin County Auditor and received as part of the township’s real estate tax settlement, an 18 to 24 month process at best.

With a number of properties handed over to the land bank, and more individuals “getting the message,” Weaver said the situation seems to be improving.

“On average, we only have to maintain about 25 percent of the properties that have been written up,” said Weaver.

For information or to report trash, high grass or weeds, call the township at 836-5308.

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