Being dead isn’t excuse when it comes to parish grass ordinance

Michelle Stuckey
September 09, 2011 at 9:07 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

Alleged murderer Gary Farrell has been in a coma for more than a year, but that doesn't mean his lawn can be neglected.

Farrell's name is listed in the Herald-Guide public notice section this week for violating the parish's grass ordinance by having overgrown grass and debris in the yard of his residence on Luling Avenue.

This year, nearly 140 homeowners and businesses have been in violation of the parish's ordinances regarding lawn care.
Pat Dufrene, codes clerk for the parish, said that lawns have to be maintained, even if the property is abandoned.

“Some people are dead and we still have to do the whole routine because of the grass ordinance,” Dufrene said. The parish first sends out a letter to the offender, letting them know that their lawn needs to be taken care of within five days. If the letter is returned or the work is not completed within five days, the parish hires a contractor to cut the grass and then bills the resident. If the invoice is also returned, the parish puts a lien on the property.

“If the property is ever sold, they'll have to pay off the lien,” Dufrene said.

The average cost to homeowners when a parish contractor has to cut their grass is about $150 to $250, but it depends on the size of the lawn. Some lawns can be much more expensive and the price goes up with various filing fees. For example, Farrell will owe $550 on his ad valorem taxes because of grass cutting plus postage fees, publication fees, an administrative fee, lein filing fees and a sheriff's collection fee. Dufrene said that she can't accurately estimate how much revenue the office gets each year because so many violators do not pay their fines and fees.

For those residents who don't pay, lien charges are added to their property tax bill, plus an additional 15 percent. On this year's ad valorem taxes, the parish is collecting just over $100,000 for grass and code violation complaints.

Dufrene said that some neighbors report people who do not maintain their lawns, but other property owners are caught violating parish ordinances during routine inspections.

“We've got some constant violators - during the summer it's horrible,” she said.

Lawn violations are published in the Herald-Guide legal notice section each week.

View other articles written Michelle Stuckey

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