Grass nuisances

8"+ tall grass in the front yard of a vacant home.

8″+ tall grass in the front yard of a vacant home.

With warmer weather comes grass and weeds. If left unchecked, tall grass and weeds become a nuisance, and are regulated by ordinance in the Town of Whiteland. Here is some information on the Town’s ordinance and policies.

Whiteland’s weed ordinance

Chapter 93 of the Whiteland Code of Ordinances deals with nuisances, including overgrown vegetation. Per §93.04 of the Code, any “vegetation that has attained a height of six inches or more, and has not been cut, mown or otherwise removed from private property that is abandoned, neglected or disregarded” is considered a nuisance.

Tall grass and weeds may be found by the Town while inspecting neighborhoods, or residents may submit complaints about violations. Complaints can be made by calling Rusty Snyder in the Building Commissioners office at 535-5531, stopping by Town Hall, or by using the nuisance complaint page (you may remain anonymous).

If a nuisance is found, per state and local statutes the Town must give the property owner a 10-day written notice to address the problem. If the nuisance is not resolved after that 10-day period, the Town can abate the nuisance. For tall grass, this means mowing and trimming the property. An invoice for the cost of mowing is then sent to the property owner.

Some common questions about tall grass and weeds are answered below.

FAQ’s

What is wrong with tall grass?
Besides not being aesthetically pleasing, tall grass and weeds can become home for vermin, nuisance insects, and other undesirable animals. Allowing weeds to mature also increases their ability to spread to neighboring properties, causing undue expense for surrounding property owners.

The property down the street has tall weeds. Who do I call?
The Planning and Zoning Department handles tall grass code violations. Call Rusty Snyder, Building Commissioner, at 535-5531, visit Town Hall, or use the nuisance complaint page. They will need the address or location of the tall grass, but you may remain anonymous if you wish.

The house next door has tall weeds in the backyard behind their privacy fence. Why hasn’t anything been done?
The Town can only inspect for violations from public areas, such as the street, unless a property owner gives specific permission to enter their property. Being behind a fence makes it nearly impossible to see from the street. However, you may submit photos of the violation using the nuisance complaint page.

Can I grow wildflowers? How about a garden?
Wildflowers that are intentionally seeded and that are kept neat and contained are acceptable. An overgrown yard that happens to have some flowers is not.

A vegetable garden, even including tall corn stalks, is also permitted, as long as weeds are kept under control.

I received a letter that my grass is too tall. Am I getting fined?
No, the letter is simply notice that the grass is too tall. Just cut the grass and weeds by the given deadline, and no fines or other action will be taken.

I received a notice letter, but my grass was already mowed.
Most likely, you cut the grass and weeds while the letter was in the mail. If the violation noted in the letter has been addressed, then no further action is necessary. If you have questions about whether something is in violation, please feel free to call Rusty Snyder at    535-5531.

I received a notice letter, but my neighbor’s property is far worse than mine.
It is likely they received a notice as well. However, to ensure the Town is aware of the violation, you can submit a complaint by calling  Rusty Snyder at 535-5531 or using the nuisance complaint page.

Due to ____ reason, I cannot mow the grass.
If you have special circumstances that prevent you from cutting, or having someone else cut, the tall grass within the 10-day time frame, please call the Building Commissioner at 535-5531 as soon as possible.   

Do I need to let you know when I cut the grass?
No, it is not necessary. During a followup inspection, we will verify if the grass is cut or not. However, if you have special considerations that need to be addressed, please call to let us know.

Can I mow the vacant lot next door?
If you like mowing, and the owner doesn’t mind you doing so, the Town won’t stop you. However, the Town cannot send notice to the vacant lot owner to let them know about the tall grass if it is being mowed by someone else.

How do you tell if the grass is too tall?
Most of the time tall grass is easily seen. However, if there is question about the height, a ruler can be used to judge if the grass is higher than the 6″ standard.

Are there any exceptions?
Any yard, lawn, lot or other grassy area near any homes and businesses needs to be cut to meet the ordinance requirements. There are general exceptions made for riparian areas along stream banks, for woods, and for agricultural land. Even in those areas though, noxious and detrimental weeds must be removed.

What are noxious weeds?
The Indiana Code defines noxious and detrimental weeds. The following plants are listed as detrimental and must be destroyed immediately:

Additional weeds can also be defined as noxious. The Town or Township Trustee may contact you if any of these weeds are seen on your property.

My neighbor’s tree is overgrown and hangs over my property. Is this overgrown vegetation?
By the Town’s current definitions, no. Overgrown vegetation only applies to weeds, grass, and similar vegetation. The Town will intervene for overgrown trees and shrubs when they block sidewalks, impede street visibility, or otherwise cause danger to the public rights-of-way, or if the tree poses a health or safety hazard. Otherwise, this is an issue between you and your neighbor to resolve.

My neighbor does not trim his side of our joint fence when he mows his grass, so there are tall grass and weeds along the fence.
The purpose of the weed ordinance is to remove weeds and tall grass that can cause significant impacts to public health and property values. Just a fence line of tall grass usually will not have that significant impact. Please talk with your neighbor about your concerns.

How much does it cost for the Town to mow a property?
By ordinance, the Town Council sets the rates for labor and equipment on an hourly basis, so the cost varies depending on the property size, amount of overgrowth, and the equipment used. A typical subdivision lot can cost $175 or more per cutting.

Tall grass and dandelions

Tall grass with dandelions

The yard next door is full of dandelions, will the Town mow it?
Only if the average height of the grass and dandelions exceeds 6″. Dandelions by themselves are not considered a nuisance.

Questions

If you have any questions, concerns, or complaints, please contact Rusty Snyder in the Building Commissioner’s office stopping by Town Hall, calling 535-5531, or using the nuisance complaint page.

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Town of Whiteland
Administrative and Town Hall Business Hours

 

Regular office and utility hours are Monday – Friday
8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. and from 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

549 Main Street, Whiteland, IN 46184
(317) 535-5531

After-hours utility emergencies:
(317) 494-3670

 

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