Morenci changes grass ordinance 2011.08.10

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

Morenci city council heard no public comment after the first reading of two proposed ordinance changes, so members voted Monday to approve both.

Councilors voted unanimously in favor of each, with Joe Varga absent.

The amendment to the grass and weed ordinance calls for lawns to be mowed if the average height of grass exceeds eight inches.

Certain classes of properties—such as vegetation in woodlands, retention ponds and certain undeveloped property—are exempt from the height rule.

Rather than sending notices of non-compliance, a public notice will be placed monthly in the Observer from May to September highlighting the ordinance. When non-compliance is found, the city superintendent may order the lawn to be mowed.

The property owner will be charged $200 for the mowing, or more if the cost exceeds that amount. If payment is not made within 30 days, a $50 late fee will be assessed. After that, a special assessment will be levied against the property.

The full text of the revised ordinance is available at city hall.

Council also approved an ordinance change that brings a criminal penalty for failure to respond to a civil infraction. Failure to pay a fine—for a barking dog, for example—would result in a misdemeanor charge and a district court date.

The city began writing civil infraction notices in 2005 for two reasons: the process results in a smaller fine for those charged with an infraction, and fines stay entirely with the city.

The new ordinance will address the problem of residents who choose to ignore the civil infraction notice.

PARKING LOTS—Mayor Keith Pennington expects concrete work to begin Thursday in the city’s parking lot rebuilding project.

Underground work—sewer, water, utilities—should wrap up this week, said city supervisor Barney Vanderpool, then grading behind the bank will get underway.

“Every day there are issues to work out,” Pennington said. “Things are uncovered, things need covering, repairs need to be made.”

Plans called for fiber optics conduit to be installed along the backs of buildings, Pennington said, but D&P Cable eventually said that it couldn’t be done, that materials wouldn’t arrive in time. The company was aware of the project schedule, Pennington said in response to a question.

“That part of the project is lost,” he said. “We’re quite disappointed.”

City administrator/clerk Renée Schroeder said that visitors to city hall often complain about the mess and the difficulty of reaching city hall, but they’re quick to add that the final result will be attractive. Overall, she said, opinion is on the positive side.

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