As temperatures climb and time outside becomes unbearable, mowing the grass can fall on the list of priorities. However, failing to cut the grass could land property owners in court.

There have been five incident reports for “unreasonable growth of grass/weeds” by Vandalia Police alone since June 14. Vandalia has a city ordinance against “unreasonable growth of grass/weeds.” The accounts all sound similar: “Officers posted an abatement in the area of the (address) for unreasonable growth of grass/weeds.”

The abatements may be relatively common but the language used is vague. What constitutes “unreasonable” growth? Vandalia Chief of Police Christopher Hammann said the city does not issue an abatement “until they are eight inches tall.” Abatements are found in the form of either an 8.5 inch by 11 inch orange sticker on the door of the property or a metal sign posted in the property’s yard.The property owners have 11 days to mow the property after the abatement is posted.

The property is re-checked after 11 days and, if it is mowed, the abatement does not go further. However, “if found not to be in compliance, a summons is issued to the property owner and it is mowed by city staff,” said Hammann. “Once it is in the court system, the fine, etc., is sanctioned by the Municipal Judge.”

Hammann said there are no particular areas in Vandalia that seem to pose more problems than others, though there are vacant properties that have been affected.

In Mexico, a similar ordinance limits grass and weeds to eight inches tall. Exceptions to this ordinance are “cases where the lot is over 65,000 sq ft (approx. 1.5 acres) with no buildings on the property only 50’ along property lines and streets must be mowed, or in areas where a riparian buffer is necessary,” according to Summer Williamson, code enforcement officer for the City of Mexico.

These exception would include fields that are intentionally let to grow for hay and areas along drainage streams. Williamson said flowers and landscaping on Mexico properties are also exempt from the rule.

Williamson said the ordinance applies to any area within Mexico city limits and the problem areas officers have encountered have been scattered around the city.

ssabatke@mexicoledger.com