Time To Cut The Grass

Posted by – Elizabeth Brennan, Community Development Executive Assistant

What felt like an endless winter, has finally come to an end!  Warmer temperatures have set in, and the grass is green and growing in our beautiful city!  May 1st marked the beginning of the Auburn Hills’ Weed Abatement Program…just in case the grass grows a little too long.

Between May 1st and October 15th, Ordinance 78-28 specifies that grass on residential properties cannot exceed 8” in height.  Violation of that rule will result in the placement of a green sticker on the front door of the home to notify the occupants that the grass must be cut within 72-hours.

In the case of vacant lots, a notice is mailed giving property owners ten days to comply.  These notices are only issued once a year at a particular location.   If the grass is not cut, the location is added to a list and cut by a city contractor (at the property owner’s expense).

Code Enforcement Officers observe most of the violations, but anyone is welcome to report grass over 8″ tall by calling the Community Development Department at (248) 364-6934.  A big thanks to all of the Auburn Hills’ residents and businesses that continue to keep our City green – not overgrown.

Welcome New Code Enforcement Officer Chris Myers

Posted by – Steve Cohen, Director of Community Development

We’re happy to announce that Christopher Myers has joined our team.

Chris started this past Monday as our new Code Enforcement Officer.  He has big shoes to fill as he replaces veteran Officer Dale Mathes who retired last September after serving just under 12 years in the position with the City.  Chris joins Officer Jack Skinner as our new dynamic duo.

Code Enforcement Officers Jack Skinner (left) and Chris Myers (right)

Chris has a Bachelor Degree in Communications from Oakland University and most recently worked at Oakland County Children’s Village.  He brings a myriad of construction and supervisory experience to his new role.  Chris will focus on the enforcement of the City’s codes and ordinances related to tall grass abatement and general property maintenance of private land throughout the community.

Welcome Chris!

Spring Has Sprung!

Posted by – Dale Mathes, Code Enforcement Officer

It’s finally here. Robins, flowering trees, buds on everything and green grass, which means another season of grass maintenance.  Statistics show that 99% of Auburn Hills’ residents, property owners and businesses regularly and routinely maintain their lawns.  However, for the few that don’t, the City enacted an ordinance allowing the City, through a contractor, to cut grass in violation of the ordinance.  This ordinance is in effect from May 1st to October 15th.

Grass over eight inches tall is in violation of the City's ordinance

Grass over eight inches tall is in violation of the City’s ordinance

Ordinance 78-28 prohibits certain noxious weeds and grass in a residential neighborhood taller than eight inches.  Houses with grass that long are affixed a green violation sticker to advise them to cut the lawn within 72 hours.  Commercial buildings and vacant lots are notified by mail to cut within ten days (more time is given to allow the Post Office to do their magic.)

If the grass is not cut within the allotted time, one of two contractors will be assigned to cut the grass.  One contractor is assigned residential and the other to large, usually vacant, lots.  The owner is billed for the contractor’s fees plus a substantial administrative fee.  If not paid, the fee will be added to the owner’s property tax bill, along with an additional transfer-to-tax fee.

As stated earlier, the vast majority of residents take care of their lawns.  This percentage is increasing yearly as the number of foreclosed homes is decreasing.  Keep up the good work folks.  And as I say every year, let’s keep Auburn Hills green, not overgrown.

Let There Be Lights

Posted by – Dale Mathes, Code Enforcement Officer

The last two mornings coming into work, especially when close to Auburn Hills, there has been pretty thick fog.  Today, visibility couldn’t have been more than a hundred feet.  It’s sort of pretty and spooky all at once.  It also can be dangerous to drive in.

Foggy road

It’s especially dangerous when our fellow drivers make it more difficult to see them by not turning on their lights.  I can hear it now: “I don’t need my headlights on.  It’s not dark outside.”  But it’s not for seeing, it’s for being seen.

Many newer vehicles have lights that turn on automatically which is great.  But for older vehicles, make sure other drivers can see you coming so they don’t pull out in front of you or turn in front of you.  A rule of thumb – when you have to turn on your windshield wipers, turn on your lights.

The bottom line: see and be seen and be safe.

The Grass Is The Past

Posted by – Dale Mathes, Code Enforcement Officer

Now that we have had our first appreciative snowfall (although, I for one did not appreciate it) it’s time to review the 2015 Weed Abatement Program.  This past summer was very different from previous years in that the amount of properties cut was well under years past.  Last year the City’s contractor cut 99 properties.  This year 76 were abated.

before - no address

Residential properties with grass over 8″ tall receive a violation sticker.  If not cut by the resident / owner within 72 hours, the grass is cut by the City contractor

In May, 130 cases were given notice and 104 owners/residents complied.  This left 15 residential plots to be cut and 11 large vacant (“rough”) cuts were performed.  June had 58 cases with 45 folks complying, nine residential cuts and four rough cuts.  In July the trend continued downward with 32 cases with 9 compliances, eight house cuts and 10 rough.  August had even fewer with 24 cases, 11 complying, six residential cuts and seven vacant lots.  September was very low with only eight cases with three complying.  This left two residential and four vacant lots to cut.  In October – no cases, no cuts.

after - no address

Post-abatement

The reduction in cases is undoubtedly due to the major decreases in vacant houses.  In past years, foreclosures left many houses in Auburn Hills without residents.  This naturally led to lawns not being cut until banks could catch up and institute property maintenance.  In addition, I like to think that Auburn Hills residents, new and old, realize what a great City this is and want to do their best to make it the best it can be.  Keep up the good work, folks.

A Blog About Logs

Posted by – Dale Mathes, Code Enforcement Officer

It’s officially autumn and the weather is taking a turn for the cooler.  A lot of folks are looking forward to firing up their fireplaces and wood-burning stoves to warm up their homes, which means they will need fuel, i.e. logs.  But where and how to store them?

logs on ground - bad

A good example of what not to do.

Auburn Hills doesn’t have an ordinance specifically laying out how logs should be stored, but there is one concerning how not to store them.  Ordinance 34-151(3) states “logs…placed or stored in a manner so as to be attractive, dangerous and accessible to children” are considered an “attractive nuisance.”

proper wood storage

A safe and dry wood storage solution

Piling up logs in the front yard will come to the attention of your friendly, neighborhood Code Enforcement Officer.  A better, safer and more useful method of storage is on a rack, either homemade or purchased commercially.  A rack keeps the wood off the ground.  This is important because logs in contact with soil rot from the bottom up.

So rack ‘em, stack ‘em and keep your logs dry and rot-free.

May Means More Than Flowers

Posted by – Dale Mathes, Code Enforcement Officer

The month of May is when the City’s Grass and Weed Abatement program kicks in; specifically after May 15th.  Due to the nice spring we’ve enjoyed so far, with its sunny days and abundant rain, the grass within Auburn Hills has been growing like … well, like grass.

grass may 2015

The best part of the program is to see just how many citizens, both resident and business, comply with the Ordinance without ever having to be notified.  They just do it because it’s the right thing.  However, when citizens do have to be notified that their grass is too long, something else kicks in.  Out of nearly 130 violation notices given out, either by letter or door sticker, only 14 residences and three large vacant lots had to be cut in May.  That is an incredible compliance rate.

May has always been the busiest month of the program (which ends October 15th) so it stands to reason that this is going to be good year of compliance by citizens and businesses.  You really cut the mustard, Auburn Hills.  (And the grass…)