A side effect of the ongoing drought is that many people are now the owners of brown, dormant lawns, but a quick look at many Sioux falls neighborhoods shows that it's the plants we wish would die that seem to be thriving.
Tuesday night, the Sioux Falls City Council held its annual assessment hearing, during which property owners were allowed to contest bills issued to them by the city about nuisance vegetation, including noxious weeds like thistles.
Here is what the process looks like:
- When a complaint is made about a property, a city weed inspector goes out and takes a look at the situation.
- If the weeds are above eight inches tall, a notice is sent to the property owner.
- The property owner then has seven days to mow or remove the weeds.
- If the problem is not addressed within seven days, the city hires a contractor to take care of it.
- The property owner is then issued a $100 citation in addition to a bill for up to $200 to pay for the work done by the contractor.
Property owners are issued a warning just once each year. If there are repeated calls to a specific property, the city will send a contractor out immediately, adding more to the total bill.
If the owner doesn't pay their bill, the total is added to their property taxes.
Most of the cases addressed Tuesday are from summer 2011. The council voted six to one to include the outstanding bills in 2012's property taxes.
The lone dissenting vote came from Councilor Kermit Staggers, who fears the current system could interfere with due process. He also voiced concerns about the fairness of property owners only being warned once about problem vegetation.
Although the cases at hand pertain to last summer, Kevin Smith with Sioux Falls Planning and Building Services says as a result of this year's dry weather, weeds are more obvious, and his department has seen a surge in complaints.
"It's a good time to remind people weeds grow in South Dakota even when it's hot and dry like it's been. We've seen people who have not had to mow as much, so they kind of let their yards go - including weeds - and you still need to mow those," said Smith.
Smith says if you see nuisance weeds or vegetation around Sioux Falls, the city would like to hear from you at (605) 978-6900. For more information, follow the link to the City of Sioux Falls homepage.
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