Marietta cracking down on unkempt yards

Marietta city leaders want to crack down on those who don't take care of their yards.

During the spring and summer months, the number of complaints received by code enforcement about overgrown yards and tall grass increases substantially. It can take weeks, even months to get the property owner to clean it up. Some said the current fines aren't much of a deterrent. Now there's a proposal to shorten the deadline to clean up and increase the fines.

"No one wants to live next to someone whose lawn is growing out of control," said Marietta Councilwoman Cheryl Richardson.

In Marietta, if the grass is more than a foot tall, residents will be hearing from code enforcement.

"I think we're being fair, 12 inches, that's a lot of law or weeds," said Richardson.

If an owner gets a notice, they'll have 48 hours to clean up. If nothing is done, the owner receives a letter giving them 5 days to comply. If they don't, they'll get a summons to appear in court. That's a shorter deadline to clean up than the current 12 days.

"I do a lot of yard work, I found a way to do it for exercise," said Mark Post, who was doing yard work when FOX 5 caught up with him.

Post said he works hard to keep his yard looking nice. He's okay with stricter rules as long as city leaders take special circumstances into consideration.

"For some people who are struggling, either economically or because of their age in their senior years, that might be a difficult situation for them," said Post.

City leaders are also considering stiffer penalties. Right now, the initial fine is $50. Under the proposed plan, the judge could fine the owner up to $500 and/or 30 days in jail.

"We're not looking to criminalize not keeping your lawn maintained, but we want people to recognize your lawns need to be cut," said Richardson.

Council members started talking about this several weeks ago. They've made a few tweaks and changes. The current version was approved Wednesday night. It will be brought up at the next council meeting for final approval.