Chris Van Horne, NBC 5 Fort Worth Reporter
Code Enforcement officers in Fort Worth are cracking down on property owners who aren't maintaining their yards.
Fort Worth's Code Compliance Department is already citing property owners for tall grass, a common spring problem.
Code compliance officers are already cracking down on property owners who aren't maintaining their yards in Fort Worth. It's a crackdown aimed at more than just aesthetics though, as it's mostly a safety issue.
While most home and property owners keep their yards well-groomed, every so often you'll find a yard, vacant lot or alley way with room for improvement. And some of that improvement is written into the city's ordinance on tall grass and weeds.
"Right now you'd see that this grass, probably needs to be mowed," said Glenn Neal, code compliance superintendent, as he showed NBC 5 a bad spot along East Vickery Blvd.
While there hasn’t been any recent rain to really make the problem noticeable, Neal says some of his officers are already seeing and citing examples of grass and weeds growing taller than allowed in the city.
"Twelve inches is the limit, it's time to mow," Neal said. "After 12 inches the city has to step in if property owners don't adhere to our notices."
Once a code officer determines the grass is longer than 12 inches, they will determine who the property owner is and leave a certified citation. If the property owner doesn't fix the problem within 10 days, the city can have one of its contractors take care of the overgrowth. That usually will cost, Neal says, between $250 to $300. If the property owner fails to pay that fee, a lien could be placed on the property.
Various reasons contribute to why a 12-inch code has been established, including tall weeds and grass that block visibility along roads, also posing a fire danger and could become homes for animals.
"Possums and skunks, rodents and rats, you know things that people don't want in their neighborhoods," Neal said.
And that also includes mosquitoes, which pose a threat since mosquitoes can carry the West Nile Virus.
"Now with the influx of the West Nile Virus we've really got to our best, everyone has to their best, to maintain the grass height," Neal said.
Mosquitoes spend the day in tall grasses and if those grasses are near populated areas, Neal says there could be a health concern with people being exposed to the virus.
And while most yards look decent now, Neal says in the next three to four weeks more areas could become problems.
"After a good rain and some warm sunshine like today, these weeds are going to get bigger," Neal said.