Schenectady County

Slow to mow? Glenville lawn law could cut time

Town officials, fed up with overgrown lawns, want to reduce to five the number of days that a cited

Town officials, fed up with overgrown lawns, want to reduce to five the number of days that a cited homeowner has before getting fined.

Under existing town law, when a lawn grows taller than 10 inches, the town notifies homeowners that they have 30 to 60 days to mow before the issue goes to court. This system has long been a headache to town officials, who say repeat violators often wait until the time is almost up before mowing — and then allow the lawn to become overgrown again, continuing the cycle.

“Every year, I get more and more complaints about it,” said Town Supervisor Chris Koetzle. “It’s a quality-of-life and blight issue. A way to protect the integrity of your neighborhoods is to make sure issues like these are taken care of.”

So the board is looking to the village of Scotia to model its legislation after. The village, which falls within town limits, gives homeowners just five days to tend to an overgrown lawn before the Department of Public Works cuts it. Then it bills the homeowner.

“If it’s not paid, then it goes onto their tax bill,” said Village Building Inspector Luis Aguero. “Thirty to 60 days is way too long to let grass just grow. It takes only about four to five weeks to get to the 10-inch mark, so you’re looking at another substantial growth period before you can even address the first substantial growth.”

A property owner won’t be cited until their grass has reached 10 inches high. At that point, it’s important the grass is trimmed for both property value and public health purposes, town officials say, pointing to the tendency that tall grasses have for attracting ticks.

With a shorter compliance period, the town of Glenville worries its Building Department will be overloaded with lawns to mow. So during a town board work session last week, board members discussed handing over lawn maintenance authority to Public Works Commissioner Tom Coppola, who seemed content with the arrangement — should it become law.

Koetzle said the board is drafting proposed legislation now, and plans to float it for further discussion at the board’s next work session.

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