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July 14, 2009 - 12:10am

Revised ordinance could land weed scofflaws in jail for 15 days or more

posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, weed abatement.

Time to start cutting or poisoning those weeds and cleaning up that debris on your property Mr. Slumlord or absentee land owner or other property owner who just simply neglects to maintain your land in accordance with City of Batavia standards.

The standards -- especially as pertains to weeds and debris -- are clearly spelled out in section 96 of the city municipal code.

The only difference is, after a vote of the City Council Monday night, the fines are a little stiffer, and if you persist and don't pay your fines, you could find yourself in Batavia City Court and possibly in jail.

The new enforcement mechanism calls for a $250 fine plus the expense of cleaning up the mess for those land owners who fail to cut or remove weeds as well as debris.

If the fines go unpaid or the problem uncorrected, tickets could be issued, which then require the land owner to appear in court. The potential penalty there is 15 days in jail for each separate offense -- the kicker is, each day of non-compliance is a separate offense.

So you need to ask yourself, how many days do you want to spend in jail?

C D
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I find jail time for not maintaining personal property absolutely ridiculous, period.
Doug Yeomans
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I find not taking care of your property ridiculous, too. We're in agreement about the jail thing, though. I'm pretty sure there's also a law that makes jail time for jay walking a possibility. Both are highly unlikely to ever result in jail time. This is especially true when all you have to do is stand next to the court house in Batavia and watch all the court employees and officers jay walking in order to get to Tim Horton's. I noticed this when I served on the Grand Jury a couple of years ago.
Charlie Mallow
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The possibility of jail time is a part of every municipal code. It's a standard thing giving a judge a tool in extreme cases.
John Roach
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Charlie is right. At some point, if fines do not work, then what? There has to be something more instead of "I am warning you".
Peter O'Brien
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If fines don't work, garnish their wages.
Howard B. Owens
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Peter, how is garnishment any less of a government ("big government") kind of intrusion on the private individual? To the degree that either extreme for the worst offenders, i.e. scofflaws, is seemingly overreach by a municipal government, reaching into somebody's paycheck is pretty big brotherish.
Peter O'Brien
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It isn't but jail time for weeds is more costly to the rest of us tax payers.
Karen Miconi
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Sounds good to me, as long as there is no Double Standard. Good for one side of the fence, is good for the other side of the fence. Homeowners, and renters. Kind of like the tinted windows laws. It should be enforced on everyone. I still dont understand how this is allowed for some. Maybe I should apply for the code enforcement job(: I'll make lots of money for the city.
Mark Potwora
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Has there been no enforcement up until this point..Does the city have no right to fine property owners as of now..what has the code enforcement officer Mike Smith been doing all this time.. Has no one ever paid the fines that are mentioned in section 96 of the city municipal code.As Karen says as long as there is no double standard ...Look at the old Jubilee building,talk about an eye sore..i can't believe there is no rule on the books to make them clean that up...
Tyler Hall
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I hope none of you ever grow old and ill. God forbid you go to the nursing home and you're children are out of state. Lol, I'd love to be the one who imposes a $250 fine on an old woman who can't take care of her lawn.......the fact of the matter is I don't think that this calls for government intervention. Yes, the old Jubilee is an eye sore and no one wants to look at it. But the same can probably be said about half the overweight mammoths that walk around Batavia. Should we start fining those 300 pound bundles of joys for being eye sores??
Peter O'Brien
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That's a good point. People wearing odd attire walking in front of my house drive my property value down as well. But that's their right to wear what they want. If I like weeds it should be my right to grow them. Are we going to nail people for dandelion covered yards? They are considered weeds and they produce seeds that affect other people when blown in the wind.
Tyler Hall
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I've been in the middle of at least twenty property closings and I've never heard someone say "the neighbor's house is really nice. there aren't any weeds and the grass was properly cut." However, I have heard "It's in a great neighborhood and the neighbors seem really friendly." What I'm getting at is the fact that the people inside the house is really what is the driving force that affects your property value. Weeds, uncut lawns and other eye soars are just by-products. If I am considering purchasing a house and the entire block is filled with thugs and drug dealers then I'm not going to buy it. And outlawing weeds isn't going to cure this epidemic that I'd like to call 'The scum Virus'.
Peter O'Brien
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"The potential penalty there is 15 days in jail for each separate offense -- the kicker is, each day of non-compliance is a separate offense." One could quickly rack up years of imprisonment with the speed at which government moves. And that will do nothing but hurt society as it fills the jails with low level weed growers (hah it really will be weeds) on the tax payers dime.
Howard B. Owens
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Tyler, ever hear of "curb appeal." Real estate agents talk about it all the time. And it does start before you get to the curb of the house with the for sale sign. When we bought out house in Pittsford, the aesthetics of the entire neighborhood was a big selling point. And that seemed to be so for all our neighbors who had bought recently as well, and the people who bought our house.
Peter O'Brien
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Curb appeal meant nothing to me. I wanted to get away from the future mother in law. Far enough to not have surprise visits and break control and close enough that I can keep my job.
Cooper Hawley
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One man's weeds are another's garden.
C D
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I figured the jail time was put in for some kind of encouragement for repeat offenders. Even still, I think it's going too far.
Tyler Hall
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No, Howard, I completely understand that. But "Curb Appeal" is something that sort of foreshadows who you are living next to. It's a product of the inhabitants inside. Scummy People are to unmaintained homes as Human Poop is to a bowl. It's like a bowl filled with human dung. One of the products of this would be an awful smell. Now the reason you're not going to eat out of this bowl is because of the contents inside of it. You can't cure this problem by getting rid of one of the products and making the smell go away. At the end of the day, the dung is still inside the bowl. Using the same logic, you can't cure the scum by taking away one of their products away.
Howard B. Owens
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Funny you should say that, Cooper. At our place in Pittsford, I had a portion of the back yard where I was growing all native (and some volunteers, which may have been non-native) plants. About five of the plants were purchased at a native plant sale. Right now, I'm sure the new owners look at that plot and go, "why was this guy growing all these weeds?" If I ever have my own place again, and the yard is big enough, I'm sure I'll be interested in another native plant garden. Here's the Web site for the New York Flora Association, which is all about native plants. As an aside, I found this cool looking site for gardening in a cold climate while looking for the link above.
Tyler Hall
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Mankind is allowed the pursuit of happiness unless it violates another person's rights. If someone thinks they can achieve happiness by not maintaining their lawn and spending time and resources in other places, and no one else is getting hurt in the process, well I'm okay with that.
Chelsea O'Brien
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Most of the plants in my gardens are "native" plants. They're naturally in this region, they can stand the cold, the rain, and the warmth, but it will take a while for the garden to look like very much. Are we going to be fined for having "weeds" in a "poorly maintained" front garden because some neighborhood snitch decides he or she doesn't like how it looks? Instead of fining people for poorly maintained properties, raise their taxes. Lower the property taxes on beautifully maintained homes, give tax incentives to those who are trying to improve their home and land. I could do a hell of a lot more with our (small) yard if I had more money or paid fewer taxes on the things I buy for it.
Peter O'Brien
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You forgot Chelsea, this is government and we punish achievers and provide for the looters. If you gain property value, you pay more taxes. If you get a raise at work, you may pay a higher percentage. A Bonus for a job well done, we are government, we own your labor, taxed. Have no marketable skill, here's food stamps. Download another brat, here's more welfare. Not getting enough welfare for a house? Here's HUD.
Mark Potwora
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Chelsea has the right idea...You are penalized for improving your property..They raise your assessment..You pay more..Maybe leaving you house looking run down from the outside is the answer to lowering your taxes..
Howard B. Owens
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Are you sure they're native? Just because they grow here doesn't make them native. There are millions of Eucalyptus trees in California, but they're not native. They're native only to Australia. The tumble weed associated with dusty western towns is actually a Russian Thistle -- non-native to any part of North America. A truly native garden would have none of these imports. I'm not -- at this point -- knowledgeable enough about New York plants to know what's native and what's not, which is why I referred to some of my plants as volunteers. If I knew what I were doing, I would treat any non-native as a weed, including at my present residence (where everything but the grass that I didn't plant is being treated as a weed).
Tyler Hall
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Have no marketable skill, here's food stamps. Download another brat, here's more welfare. Not getting enough welfare for a house? Here's HUD. LMAO I LOVE IT. Nicely put Peter.
Richard Gahagan
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Left out don't have a job here's unemployment.
Chelsea O'Brien
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Howard, most of them are "native" as in, they may not have started up here, but they have been here as long as my grandfather can remember. Most of my plants have been grown and known by my family (the fine Irish right off the boat and onto their own farm in Rochester). I was taught to garden by my grandpa and my dad, so when I say "native" (specifically in quotation marks) most of them are wild flowers and others are ones I was taught as "native" but I'm not entirely sure... Howard, if you're interested in gardening, you are more then welcome to claim a small plot of land on our property to cultivate :)
Howard B. Owens
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Thanks, Chelsea, my landlord is quite happy that I've planted roses, started killing weeds, putting in a stone path to the front door (he bought the stepping stones) ... and I should probably disclose, now that I think about it ... my landlord is on the NIC. Terry Platt.
Peter O'Brien
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You keep catching them fish Dick, I'll be here working. 7th place is nothing to be proud of.

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