Jun 5, 2013

Who mows overgrown lawns on vacant properties?

Who is in charge of mowing vacant lots of grass when condemned homes were taken down? An empty lawn on Warren Street is getting pretty tall and reflects poorly on Sandusky. Andrea on Fifth Street.

We sent this question, along with other related ones, to Sandusky fire Chief Paul Ricci, who oversees city-based nuisance complaints.

Q: Who pays to mow lawns on vacant city properties?

A: The city of Sandusky initially pays all costs to cut grass. This cost is billed to the owner of the property, if there is one. If the bank owns the property, they get the bill.

Q: Who pays to mow lawns where there is an actual owner present?

A: It is the owner who is responsible to comply. If the owner allows the height to become 8 inches or higher, a violation notice is issued by city officials to have the violation corrected. If not corrected, the city abates the nuisance and invoices the owners. If the invoice goes unpaid, then the invoiced amount is placed against a homeowner's taxes.

Q: Who cuts these lawns?

A: Currently, the city is under contract with Goodwill Industries for cutting nuisance properties.

Q: How many condemned residential properties exist in Sandusky?

A: There are currently 39 condemned properties. The owner of the property, whether it's a structure or vacant lot, is obligated to maintain the property

Q: How can I get a vacant lawn mowed?

A: Call the city's code enforcement department by dialing 419-627-5913. This could work, say, for that Warren Street property with overgrown weeds infecting the area. Maybe someone could do that in the comment section below.

Q: How much do city officials charge for overgrown areas?

A: The city's laws states "the property owner ... shall pay all costs associated with the cutting and removal of the noxious weeds and grass together with an administrative fee of $100."

Q: How much have city officials billed in years past for nuisance lawns?

A: About $282,000 from 2008 through 2012, according to city data.

The Mailbag is a daily feature on SanduskyRegister.com. Every weekday at noon, we will post one question-and-answer from a resident. To ask a question, send a letter to The Mailbag at 314 W. Market St., or e-mail mailbag@sanduskyregister.com. Please include your first name and a location in the e-mail, e.g. “John from Decatur Street."

Comments

SamAdams

How long do people have to fix the problem one they're warned? I walk by SEVERAL properties (one has grass taller than my waist) that have had warning signs posted for a couple of weeks, but ZERO action. If the City contracts out, and the costs are paid by the property owners, what's the reason behind the delay?

Licorice Schtick

Can't believe no one has yet suggested calling Mayor John "Lawnmower Man" Hamilton.

2kids

How many home owners that can't cut their grass actually pay the fines? How much of that $282,000 did the city actually see?

google me

Same question for The City of Huron. What is the number to call?

getit right be4...

If a lawn in my neighborhood was to get close to knee hi, and it was a occupied home I would be a good neighbor and ask if I could cut the lawn for them. If the home was bank owned I would just cut it and keep my neighborhood looking nice.

I don't see the need to get the government involved and wast more tax dollars that could be used to fix the streets, and parks.

Julie R.

If the city of Huron gets complaints the city will cut the grass and charge the owner(s). I know that because almost three months after that scam court-ordered sheriff sale of my deceased mother and stepfather's property not through foreclosure but through a scam partition action, I received a call that the neighbors were complaining about the tall grass. I informed them that the house had been sold and even gave them the name of the realtor who bought it. I also gave him the name of the respective snake attorneys (one from Cleveland and the others from Lorain County) for the two idiots from Huron that had the property sold with serious defects in the title without my consent. Come to find out, I might have received a certified letter that the property had been sold but obviously nothing was finalized. (duh, I thought when one buys property at a sheriff sale they have 30 days to come up with the rest of the money)

The city of Huron then cut the grass and charged $150.00 and the court even took THAT charge out of the money from that scam sale. $150 dollars to cut grass? Geez, had I known the idiots had lied when they said the property had been sold, I would have cut it myself.

Darkhorse

How much of the $282,000 did the city actually collect? The delay is to give notice to the property owner that the city is going to cut the lawn if the property owner doesn't take action and they will charge the amount to their taxes. A certain amount of time has to pass from the time the city posted the violation. If the neighbor next store just keeps cutting, nothing will get done with the vacant property. You are better off reporting it and let the city monitor the situation so the nuisance can finally get taken care of especially if a bank owns it.

Minuteman

Why don't they acquire the properties that are neglected? It's abandonment, probably waiting for the city to pay for demolition. Take the property and sell it.

magiclady

I know if you cut the grass of a vacant lot or house and keep a record after 2yrs of you keeping up the maintance that the property becomes yours

transplant

Where did you get that information? Show me a city ordinance that states that as fact.

Julie R.

@magiclady: Where in the world did you ever come up with a law like that?

getit right be4...

Magiclady this is inaccurate information.

ORC 2305.04 Recovery of real estate.
An action to recover the title to or possession of real property shall be brought within twenty-one years after the cause of action accrued, but if a person entitled to bring the action is, at the time the cause of action accrues, within the age of minority or of unsound mind, the person, after the expiration of twenty-one years from the time the cause of action accrues, may bring the action within ten years after the disability is removed.

Effective Date: 01-13-1991

Julie R.

The law you stated is correct except I heard it goes well beyond 21 years --- in one case, anyway.

Story I heard pertaining to the devious plot by the Erie County courts and attorneys to sell property with serious defects in the title at a scam sheriff sale and their intentional failure to bring in the 4th beneficiary that was defrauded --- I heard that property is plain and simple NO GOOD and will remain NO GOOD until the fraud on it is acknowledged and the property put back into the correct owner's probate estate, be it 21 years from now or 50 years from now.

arnmcrmn

who mows these lawns.....neighbors who care about what the neighborhood looks like.

SanduskyMomOf3

No, magiclady is actually (mostly) right in this one. Sandusky brought out a "Mow to Own" program in July of 2011. There was an article about it here in the Register. It doesn't include vacant properties, just small vacant lots. If you own a home with a small vacant lot attached to it, you can file paperwork with the city and enter into the "Mow to Own" program. After 2 years, the property would be yours if you kept it up.

Julie R.

Wow....people can automatically own a lot just by mowing it for 2 years? So is that one of Erie County's made-up doozy laws or is that a real law?

As an afterthought, instead of filing paperwork with the city to enter the "Mow to Own" program, why not just transfer it under a forged power of attorney hidden in another county like attorneys do with houses situated in Huron?

Julie R.

Instead of worrying about who has to mow overgrown lots in Erie County, better start worrying about all the fraud that's been going on with property in Erie County for a looooong time. If anybody thinks it was only my mother's property that an auditor authorized attorneys to fraudulently transfer, think again. Why not do a title search (which would include a search of probate court records) on some of those properties on Cedar Point Road and Curran Street --- the ones the Erie County courts ruled could remain as rental properties. Just might be surprised what you find out.