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Wednesday, September 12th, 2018

Grass on streets a problem in Celina

By William Kincaid
CELINA - Too many people in Celina are blowing grass onto city streets while mowing their lawns, resulting in increased maintenance costs, city officials say.
Council members at Monday night's streets and alleys committee agreed they need to take legislative action after learning no laws explicitly prohibit the practice that's causing headaches for public works employees.
Councilman Mark Fleck and public works superintendent Joe Wolfe led the charge for a new city law so citations can be issued to deter a minority of city mowers who they claim perpetually blast grass clippings onto city streets that clog storm sewers and ultimately end up in the lake. If the grass is treated, it contributes to the overloading of nutrients into Grand Lake.
"Grass is a terrible issue that we've got to contend with each month, and it's getting worse," Wolfe said.
He said he uses the street sweeper on the entire town after the monthly brush and limb pickup between April and October. The sweeper sucks up a lot of grass, all of which under Environmental Protection Agency regulations must be hauled to the landfill, costing the city about $1,000 a month.
Also, when people blow clippings into the road, grass seeds end up in cracks, causing the plant to sprout up.
"You can see it all over town," Wolfe said, noting he doesn't have the manpower to address the grass growing in street cracks.
Wolfe and Fleck would like to see a law with some teeth so citations can be issued to those who continually blow grass onto streets.
"I think the threat of citations will work," Wolfe said.
Councilman June Scott asked how such an ordinance would be policed, questioning exactly how much grass on the road would trigger a citation.
Wolfe said it would have to be a judgment call by the officer. Mayor Jeff Hazel agreed.
"If there's just a little bit of grass that the wind blew out there, that's not going to be the issue," Hazel said. "It's if somebody discharges the grass, then leaves it."
"You can tell when a guy purposely shoved them (grass clippings) out there and carpeted it," councilman Jeff Larmore added. "You (Wolfe) build that list of yours on who the culprits are and then we'll give you an ordinance, hopefully, between all of us that'll have some bite into it along with your tag that you're putting on (doors) and we'll shut those 100 (people) down that's kind of ruining it for everybody else."
Hazel pointed out that yard waste bags are available for purchase.
"You can use yard waste bags for limbs, debris, for leaves, for grass, but they choose not to do that," Hazel said about people who repeatedly blow grass onto streets.
"There is a program. All they have to do is buy a bag," councilman Eric Clausen said. "Instead, they chose to just pass that cost onto the city and I think that we as a city ought to make it painful for them if it's going to be painful for the taxpayers to cover that bill."
Streets and alley committee members then moved to recommend that city administrators look into bringing forth legislation for council's consideration.
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