Should residents be fined over grass clippings?

Staff writer

A question was brought before last week’s Marion City Council meeting on whether or not to fine homeowners whose grass clippings and other trash littered city streets.

A proposed ordinance would fine homeowners who blow their grass clippings out into the streets after mowing. Some residents blame these grass clippings for clogging up key drainage systems during rainstorms.

City Administrator Doug Kjellin proposed the ordinance after some residents expressed concern over drainage grates becoming clogged and potentially causing street flooding during heavy rain.

“I think it would be great if every homeowner took responsibility so there would be no need for an ordinance,” he said, “rather than try and enforce an ordinance like this. Most yards need more mulch anyways; it doesn’t do the road any good.”

They city had a previous ordinance about grass clippings according to Kjellin, but it was repealed and contained no fine.

“It’s hard to enforce an ordinance that has no real punishment to it,” he said.

Enforcement was one of the main concerns of the council. Unable to come to an agreement on how to enforce the ordinance, no action was taken.

Kjellin said the city crews spend time removing debris, such as grass clippings, from drainage grates every week.

“Usually three guys get in pickups and brush or pull all the debris away from the grates,” he said. “If we know it’s going to rain, we will check them before a storm, and while it’s raining there’s usually someone who checks and makes sure they aren’t clogged.”

The city is attempting to combat this problem without an ordinance by creating a public relations campaign focusing on cleaning up clippings and fallen leaves.

“I’m going to present the ads to the council during the next meeting,” said Roger Holter city economic development director and zoning administrator. “If approved, they will be inserts sent out with customers utility bills and made into posters to be hung around town.”

The campaign is called “Keep the Lakes Where They Belong.” Holter said the ads will mainly focus on leaves as grass cutting winds down.

Marion resident Marlin Buchholz said he does not believe an ordinance is necessary. He said if people were more aware about where there clippings were landing, most of the problem would cease to exist.

“People just need to do a better job blowing cut grass back into their own yards,” he said. “Not necessarily bag it, but during the first few passes, point the blower away from the street.”

Mike Carroll of Marion said he gets his fair share of trash in his yard off Cedar St.

“It drives me batty to see someone mowing their yard and blowing the clippings on the street,” he said. “I do my best to bag my grass every time I mow.”

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