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Columbus residents upset about grass clippings ordinance - KOAM TV 7

Columbus residents upset about grass clippings ordinance

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COLUMBUS, KANSAS -

Residents in the city of Columbus are frustrated over a new city ordinance passed at last Monday’s city council meeting.

The ordinance states  in part, “It shall be unlawful for any person to make, cause, rake place or mow fallen trees, branches, leaves or grass clippings into the street or into the gutter or curb of any public street unless directed by the city of Columbus.”

Residents are frustrated over the meticulous care they must now give to leaves and grass clippings in their yards, but also feel the city is ignoring larger problems.

"I don't feel like it's my responsibility or the responsibility of the fellow citizens to sweep the sidewalk that has long ago been abandoned by the city itself,” resident Jennifer Burton said.

Burton took photos around the city of things she thinks needs improved and posted them to the growing Facebook group called: Bigger Issues: The Columbus City Council vs. The Grass Clippings.

"Grass clippings is a small, minute issue in this town. There are bigger issues,” Burton said.

The first offense results in a warning from the Police Department according to the ordinance. Second and subsequent violations are subject to a fine of $75 minimum, up to $200. Columbus Police are in charge of enforcing the new ordinance.

"A little bit larger issue is, we already have a police force that's taxed. They're having trouble the way it is keeping up. It's just one more thing that gets put on their plate that I don't think needs to be,” resident Chad Ruddick said.

Columbus Mayor Dexter Opela explains that the ordinance was put in place because the city is working on a storm-water grant.

"The city has been trying to get grants for different improvements to make in the city and the grants require us to be good stewards and have reasonable ordinances in place to help protect the items we are trying to get grants for,” Opela said on the phone.

Opela said the idea was brought forth by concerned citizens, then went through three committees before being approved by city council (Streets and Bridges, Sewer and Water and Police and Licensing).

"We've had an issue with not only our storm water system being clogged up by grass clippings but also just an aesthetic view of the city. You know we're trying to attract new businesses and things like that to our community and if somebody comes in and your city isn't well-kept and maintained, it's not likely that they'll engage in new business ventures with you,” Opela said.

The city of Columbus reached out to similar-sized communities like Baxter Springs to see what their grass clippings ordinances looked like, then modeled theirs after that.

"I think it's ridiculous because how can you enforce something when you've got grass growing out in the middle of the street here both ways and you can see it.  They complain about grass being out in the middle of the street, how you gotta mow out in the middle of the street just to keep the grass halfway decent,” resident Randall Bass said.

We reached out to the chief of police regarding the enforcement of the ordinance and to see if any citations have been given. He did not return our call.

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