The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

June 14, 2014

Tall grass lands many Conneaut owners in court

Certified letters have been sent to 17 people

CONNEAUT — As promised, the city of Conneaut has scheduled court hearings for landowners who have refused orders to mow grass and weeds in violation of municipal code.

Certified letters were sent late this week to 17 people who own or co-own more than a dozen properties, informing them they have been charged with a violation of local law that prohibits grass and weeds taller than six inches. Nearly all of the owners live out of town, according to a check of the complaints filed in Conneaut Municipal Court.

The citations were issued after each of the owners ignored a letter from the city to correct the problem, said Law Director Carly Prather. Nearly all the offenses are minor misdemeanors, meaning they can be paid with a waiver like a speeding ticket. The owner of a property at 297 E. Main Road, faces a fourth-degree misdemeanor because he has been cited into court before for the same violation, a court spokeswoman said Friday.

Landowners have been cited into court in the past for ignoring their mowing responsibilities, but never in such numbers as the batch filed this week. “We did a few last year,” Prather said.

City officials this year have launched a full assault on property owners who neglect their holdings. Laws have been passed aimed at building upkeep, and City Council this year amended the grass/weed ordinance to include criminal penalties for scofflaws. Previously, the city would mow the grass when notices were ignored and send a bill to the owner. Bills not paid were placed on property tax duplicates.

Taxes aren’t always paid, either. Last month, Finance Director John Williams reported the city is owed nearly $78,000 for mowing services conducted over the past several years.

People who ignore court notices run the risk of arrest warrants, officials said. Landowner who rack up multiple violations could wind up in jail, officials have said.

Here are the unkempt Conneaut properties that generated citations. Owners’ community of residence follows in parenthesis:

890 Harbor St. (owner lives in Pierpont); 274 Cleveland Court (Florida); 266 Cleveland Court (Florida); 633 Clark St. (Cleveland); 983 Mill St. (Pittsburgh couple); 654 Harbor St. (Tennessee); 130 15th St. (Arizona); 531 Wrights Ave. (Florida); 183 Carnegie Ave. (Jefferson couple); 458 Sandusky St. (Conneaut); 633 Clark St. (Cleveland); and 297 E. Main Road (Conneaut). Also on the citation list are two properties identified by parcel numbers, not addresses.

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