September 2, 2014

Elyria
Intermittent clouds
67°F
test

Elyria City Council looks at hiking mowing fees

ELYRIA — City Council is debating whether it should increase the lot mowing fee charged to property owners when city workers have to cut overgrown lawns.

Members of the Finance Committee discussed the matter Monday after a request from Councilman Larry Tanner, D-1st Ward.

Tanner’s compliant was that the fine was not enough to act as a deterrent to repeat offenders.

However, a decision was not made as Council members said they need more information before making a decision.

Councilman Tom Callahan, D-at large, said Safety Service Director Chris Eichenlaub is compiling a detailed report on the billing structure as well as what other cities charge to cut grass and high weeds.

The responsibility of billing property owners, a job that increases in the summer when warm weather helps grass grow beyond the 12-inch threshold for violations, is that of Colleen Rosado of the Safety-Service Department.

So far this year, Rosado said she has sent out 160 bills totally more than $32,000 in lot mowing fees. Each bill represents a property that was mowed by a city worker and 22 such residences are repeat offenders.

Under city ordinances, lot mowing charges are assessed at a rate of $200 an hour.

“If it takes longer than an hour, it is billed at $400,” Rosado said.

However, a very small percentage of those bills is paid by property owners. If that happens, Rosado said steps are taken to assess the amount to the property taxes. Sixty such requests are making their way through the appropriate channels.

“The bill goes to the property owner listed on the Lorain County auditor’s website,” Rosado said. “Though some of those people will call to say they are not the owner because the property is going through foreclosure. In that case, the amounts will just be assessed to the property taxes.”

In other business

The community garden on North Street is staying put after members of the Community Development Committee decided Monday night not to sell the small lot of former county Commissioner Mary Jo Vasi. Located near the corner of North and Chestnut streets, the garden consists of a paved pathway between two rows of pine trees; a large tree that has the last pieces of an old car sticking out from the bottom, and three benches that make the area look like a little park. There is also a vegetable garden planted in the shape of a sun.

Holly Huff, head of the Cascade/Furnace Block Watch and Community Garden coordinator, said the garden is young but growing with the hard work of neighbors. She implored Council not to sell the property to Vasi, who owns an adjacent vacant lot and said she wanted the property because she originally thought she owned the land until the garden was planted and she learned it was city-owned property.

However, it was the work of the volunteers tilling the land that spoke loudest to Council.

“The volunteers and the spirit that they have and the work they do is for a good cause,” said Councilman Tom Callahan, D-at large. “As a city, we need to nurture that spirit and encourage it. For us, it wasn’t a money issue. It was just the right thing to do.”

Councilwoman Donna Mitchell, D-5th Ward, made the motion not to sell the property and Committee members voted unanimously to side with her.

Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or lroberson@chroniclet.com.