Local Municipalities Cracking Down On Overgrown Lawns

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FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM) -- Complaints about overgrown yards have been pouring into cities and towns in the River Valley and Northwest Arkansas as the summer season has amped up.

Many municipalities have started to crack down on lawns with tall grass and weeds, including the city of Fayetteville.

5NEWS tagged along with code compliance officers as they made their rounds to properties in violation of city ordinances.

"Parcels like this are not only unsightly," said David Carver, head of the code compliance office. "[The yards] can also cause a lot of other problems, such as harvesting rodents, snakes, things of that nature."

The process often starts with a complaint from a neighbor, said Matthew Maddox, a code compliance officer for the City of Fayetteville.

"People just call in and say 'Hey, there is this address, they haven not mowed in awhile. We think it is in violation,'" Maddox said. "That will start the process of us going out, doing the inspection and starting the process of letting the property owner know."

Cities and towns in both the River Valley and Northwest Arkansas have rules about how tall your grass can be.

In Fort Smith, a local ordinance requires grass to be no taller than six inches, said Rick Ruth, the city's property maintenance supervisor. Exceptions are made for agriculture purposes within city limits.

Measuring the grass is often the first thing Maddox does when getting to a property. If the property is in violation, which means the grass is taller than eight inches in Fayetteville, pictures are taken for records and an orange violation notice is posted to the door of the home or business.

"From here, the officer will go back to the office and he will send his official notice of violation to the owner of record," Carver said. "That is our official notice that you are in violation."

A certified letter will then go to the property owner, requesting them to cut the grass within seven days in Rogers and Fort Smith. Fayetteville gives parties 10 days to get up to code.

If the property owners fail to comply within the set time, outside contractors will often be tapped to take care of the violation.

"We will mow your property, we will correct any and all violations that might be on the property," Carver said.  "Obviously then we are sending the bill back to the owner."

Carver said it could cost upwards of $80 depending on the height of grass or amount of debris in the lawn. Fort Smith will charge around $40 an hour, which includes administrative and photo costs.

In Van Buren, the police department will handle any complaints and violations, with a court date ordered for noncompliance after 14 days. A judge can implement a fine of $25 dollars per day for as long as the violation goes uncorrected, said Officer Steve Gunter, supervisor of code compliance.

"We just want to work with you as much as we can," Carver said. "Including educating you about the ordinances and why they are there."

TAKEAWAY TIPS:

  • Bentonville -- Grass can be no taller than 8 inches on residential properties. More information can be found here.
  • Fayetteville -- Grass can be no taller than 8 inches on properties with a structure; 18 inches for vacant lots. More information can be found here.
  • Fort Smith -- Grass can be no taller than 6 inches on residential properties. Agriculturally purposed land and within city limits is excluded. More information can be found here.
  • Rogers -- Grass height is regulated. Code enforcement gives property owners 7 days to comply with city ordinances before correcting the violations themselves. More information can be found here.
  • Springdale -- Grass height is regulated. More information can be found here.
  • Van Buren -- Grass height is regulated. The Van Buren Police Department enforces city codes. More information can be found here.

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