By Dedra Cordle
Mowing the lawn and pulling the weeds do not rank high on the list of fun things to do but neglecting these chores could cause some residents in the village of Urbancrest to see an increase on their tax bill.
At its regular meeting on Sept. 8, council discussed a proposal that could allow the county to assess tax liens against property owners should the village be forced to go onto their lot to maintain proper grass length or implement weed control measures.
According to code enforcement officer Randall Bogue, between 30 and 50 homeowners have been issued orders to maintain their properties through the months of May to September and a majority of those homeowners are repeat offenders.
“This is quite a few (problem lots) for a village of this size,” he said.
He explained that what is compounding this issue is current village codes which allows the length of grass to be “no higher than 12 inches.”
Bogue said in addition to that being too high, it is not in compliance with current codes established in Jackson Township.
“Their code states that grass length can be no higher than nine inches,” he said. “We should not be able to go looser than that.”
The council members agreed that the length was too high and said they would look at lowering the allowance of grass height in the village.
Council also discussed measures that could be taken to quell the number of properties that are overgrown with grass and weeds, which brought about the topic of assessing tax liens against repeat offenders.
Council members said they would be willing to hire either an independent contractor or have village employees to go onto properties in order to maintain proper grass length or implement weed control measures.
Mayor Joseph Barnes Sr. said he was more in favor of the former rather than the latter as it is an issue of liability.
“What if one of our (street department) workers hit a gas line or did damage to their property?” Barnes asked. “The village could be liable for that.”
He said if they contract with a third party, not only could the village be covered financially, but there would also be a paper trail so the village could recoup the proper amount of assessed funds.
Council did not vote on the proposal at the meeting. Councilwoman Deborah Larkins-Jackson said she would like to see the proposal in legislative form sooner rather than later.
“It is a problem,” she said, “especially now that our streets have been repaved. It makes it stand out even more.”
In other news, the community liaison officer with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office is scheduled to attend the Sept. 21 health and safety committee meeting. Councilwoman Alicia Wiggins said the public is welcome to attend. She said if they are not comfortable doing so, questions can be submitted to her, Larkins-Jackson or Alicia Skinner via email through the village’s official website at www.villageofurbancrestoh.us. The health and safety meeting will take place at 7 p.m. at the administrative building, 3492 First Ave.