Ask an Official: City admin discusses unkempt lawn ordinance
This week’s featured question was submitted for City of Merrill City Administrator Dave Johnson
The question reads:
“”Are realtors or real estate companies exempt from city rules about maintaining lawns at homes they are selling? How does the rules work about lawns anyway? Is there a certain height before the city comes in and takes care of business? I can’t help but wonder as I drive around town and see such beautifully kept lawns and then these eye sores with what looks like knee high grass and weeds, with a real estate sign out front! A real shame.”
Answer as given by Johnson
“Realtors are only responsible for cutting the lawns of properties they own, just because a realtor has a listing does not make them responsible for mowing the property, mowing is always the responsibility of the property owner. The same is true of rental properties, while an owner expects the renter to mow the property, it is the owner of record who will be cited if the property is not mowed according to the city ordinance.
“City Ordinance requires that lawns be maintained no more than 8 inches in length. When a property is seen, or a complaint is received, a notice is sent to the owner of record stating that they have 5 days from the notice to bring the property into compliance with the city ordinance or the City will mow the property and charge the owner of record a special assessment that will appear on their tax statement pursuant to Wisconsin Statutes and Merrill City Ordinances 14-34, 14-35, and 14-36. After the first notice annually, the City will continue to mow the property as needed without further notice and bill accordingly.
“The City recently amended the ordinance to reflect a new rate when the City mows property. The rate is now $300 for the first hour (minimum 1 hour charge), and $50 for every 15 minutes after the first hour. Second and subsequent occurrences in a calendar year will be charged at $500 for the first hour and $50 for every 15 minutes thereafter. This fee is meant to be a deterrent so that individuals are not using the City as a lawn care service.”
Have a question or concern you would like to address? Simply send your question or concern to firstname.lastname@example.org along with an indication of which entity your question or concern pertains to. Current participants are the Merrill Police Department, Merrill Fire Department, Tomahawk Police Department, Lincoln County Administrative Coordinator Randy Scholz, Merrill City Administrator Dave Johnson and Merrill Area Housing Authority Director Paul Russell and MAPS Superintendent Dr. John Sample. Please note: Those who submit to the ‘Ask an Official’ feature remain anonymous.