Commonwealth Journal

Local News

June 25, 2014

City revisits overgrown lawn law

Somerset officials question proposed $250 fee to mow yards that are unkempt

Somerset —

City officials hope to rework an ordinance in an effort to force property owners to keep their properties mowed. 
Discussions about upping the city’s current mowing fee continued during Monday’s Somerset City Council meeting. Councilor Mike New had brought up the idea of increasing they city’s mowing fee from the current $50 to a much steeper $250 during the June 9 meeting. 
“ ... If we go to mow your yard, you ought to pay us $250,” said New during the June 9 meeting. “ ... A lot of people paying $50 are coming out ahead.”
Somerset Mayor Eddie Girdler said the city will soon hold a workshop to help make a more practical, stronger ordinance that would enforce property maintenance. But he pointed out that fees can’t be so high that owners can’t pay them. 
“You have to be reasonable, and the courts ... won’t allow us to enforce $250, no way,” said Girdler.
Girdler said the city of Corbin recently raised its fees to $100. 
Councilor Jerry Burnett pointed out that yards requiring large equipment, such as bush hogs, and several workers would necessitate a much higher fee than $50 to ensure the city doesn’t lose money.
But Councilor Pat Bourne asked about those property owners who are on tight budgets. 
“A lot of these people are on fixed incomes, and they ... are barely able to have it cut themselves,” said Bourne. 
“If they had it cut themselves we wouldn’t have to cut it,” answered New. “I don’t want to put a hardship on anybody, but most of these empty lots we got belong to business people around town.”
Burnett pointed out that many properties requiring the city to step in are “tied up” in nursing homes and banks. And Burnett pointed out that it’s unfair to nearby property owners. 
“They deserve better representation than that,” said Burnett. “ ... It’s not that many people, but there are some that are just continuous.”

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