HIGH POINT, N.C. — Piedmont cities say they’ve been inundated with complaints about overgrown lawns in recent weeks.
All of the rain we’ve had plus a warm, sunny week will undoubtedly lead to even taller grass.
In High Point, code enforcement officers are putting signs in yards of property owners who are violating the 12-inch overgrown grass ordinance.
“We’re looking for the dense growth of 12 inches, not just that there’s a patch overgrown necessarily,” explained Interim Code Enforcement Supervisor Lori Loosemore.
She said council members have made code enforcement issues a priority and budgeted for the department to hire four more officers.
Ericka Gilmore lives off Amos Street in High Point. The lot next door continues to be overgrown and problematic. “I have my grandkids play outside, cars coming through, that’s a bad intersection because you can’t see for the grass being so high. We got snakes, we got rats, coming all out the grass, going into people’s houses.”
HOW CITIES ADDRESS COMPLAINTS
All the cities we talked to are complaint-driven when it comes to inspecting overgrown lawns. They also all said they notify the property owner and give the owner a certain number of days to comply.
If the yard is not cleaned up, the city can hire a contractor to do the work and then bill the property owner. If the property owner doesn’t pay the bill, the city can put a lien on the property.
High Point, Greensboro, Burlington, Lexington and Asheboro have a twelve-inch overgrowth rule. In Winston-Salem, anything over eight inches is a violation.
Greensboro and Burlington allow property owners 10 days to comply. Lexington allows 15 days to comply. Asheboro offers seven days to respond to a courtesy letter and then seven days after the formal violation. Winston-Salem gives property owners five days to comply.
A BUSY SEASON
We also asked several Piedmont cities how busy they are with these type of complaints right now.
In Greensboro, Code Compliance Division Manager Beth Benton tells us they got 300 calls the first two weeks of May, the majority about overgrowth. The city also uses a bright yellow sign or sticker to post violations on properties.
In Burlington, Assistant Director for Planning Services David Beal said in May alone they are getting ten to twenty calls a day. “Yards are posted with red notices of violation and the owner of record is notified by regular and registered U.S. mail,” he added.
In Asheboro, Code Enforcement Officer Ed Brown said, “This year is not as bad as 2009 when the housing bubble left abandoned homes all over the city, but it has been challenging nonetheless.”
In May so far, they’ve issued about 80 tall grass letters in Asheboro.
In Lexington, Code Enforcement Officer Barry Allison said, “As I am sure is the case in most cities, 80% of the homeowners or property owners do a really good job maintaining their properties.” He said it is out of town owners, deceased owners, and people who just don’t care that result in most of the issues. He said even in their small town they handle 2,000-3,000 cases a year.
Lexington has 200 cases open at most times. They also have 50-75 chronic cases they handle differently. “For chronic owners, we will not notify them again, we will just have the grass mowed and send them a bill,” he explained. High Point manages a chronic owners list similarly.
In Winston-Salem, there are 1,077 weeded lot cases open city-wide. Evan Raleigh, Deputy Director of Community and Business Development, said they also have a chronic violators list and use signs on some lots to alert the property owners.
HOW TO GET HELP FOR YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD
Greensboro: 336-373-2111 or 336-373-CITY (2489)
High Point: 336-883-3111
Burlington: 336-222-5024, at Municipal Building or on city’s website
Asheboro: 336-626-1201 x 220
Winston-Salem: (336) 727-8000 or City Link 311
Check with your local municipality for specific overgrowth ordinance information and how to report violations.