Grass can grow up to 10 inches in Union before it’s considered a weed.

After weeks of discussion, the Union Board of Aldermen approved a revised weed nuisance ordinance at its Aug. 13 meeting. Aldermen began discussing the weed issue in June after City Administrator Russell Rost said the previous ordinance had unintended issues that needed addressing.

The city defines weeds as “all grasses, annual plants and vegetation, other than trees or shrubs.”

The city of Union is moving forward with plans to revise its nuisance ordinance regarding weeds and tall grass.

The new ordinance allows grass to grow a little longer and spells out exceptions. Rost looked at how other communities address the issue. He took pieces of other ordinances to make a revision for the city.

Aldermen approved changing the enforcement height from 7 inches to 10 inches.

The 7-inch number was set years ago. The idea behind 7 inches was to ensure the weeds didn’t get too long between notification of the problem and the issue being addressed.

Rost said the gap between notification and the issue finally being addressed can result in significant growth. By starting the notification process at 7 inches, he said it would still be possible to cut the weeds with regular lawn equipment.

The downside of 7 inches, is a rainy week can make even the most regular mower in violation. Rost said most mowers are set at 4 inches so a week of major growth can impact a lot of people.

Based on feedback, Rost said he felt 10 inches might be a better number. Aldermen agreed.

Exceptions

The other change is the ordinance clears up some language and creating exceptions. For example, under detention basins the ordinance now spells out that “the trustees of the subdivision and/or developer” are responsible for maintenance.

For exceptions, weeds that are within 15 feet of a creek or larger waterway do not need to be maintained at the 10-inch mark.

Weeds on land which has an unmowable 2-foot to 1-foot slope also are excluded. Also excluded is property that is maintained as a natural forested area and property located in the nonurban zoning districts.

Lastly weeds can grow to any height as long as the growth is maintained near property lines. The ordinance states weeds “within twenty (20) feet of all property lines, streets or curbs (public or private), and buildings or structures” can’t exceed 10 inches.

Penalties

The ordinance also spells out the penalties for offenses.

The first violation includes a fine of $75 each day after the notification period has started.

A second violation is if the same property is notified for the second time within two years of the date of the first infraction. For second violations, the fine increases to $150 per day after notification.

A third violation happens if the same property has been notified twice in a two-year period. The fine increases to $300 per day after notification.