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City cracks down on long grass, dandelions in yards

Warm weather and rain have caused dandelions to sprout up in Park Rapids. Property owners need to keep lawns cleaned up in order to comply with the city's public nuisance ordinance. (Anna Erickson / Enterprise)

Grass has been growing quickly after warm weather and rain and Park Rapids city officials are asking citizens to take care of their lawn before it becomes a nuisance.

Park Rapids has an ordinance referring to public nuisances.

According to the ordinance, "a nuisance is public if it annoys, injures or endangers the safety, health, comfort or repose of any considerable number of people. It is public if it affects the surrounding community in general or some local neighborhood."

Probably the most common nuisance violation in Park Rapids is long grass and dandelions, said police chief Terry Eilers.

"Garbage too, like old bikes, snowmobiles and cars, that's a big one," he said.

City planner Dan Walker also fields complaints from the public about nuisances and works with the police department to talk with property owners about keeping yards neat.

"It's part of our job to make sure the city continues to be a clean, safe place to live," Walker said.

Officers will typically talk to the homeowners and give them a warning first, Eilers said.

"Most people are very cooperative," he said.

But there are repeat offenders. If someone doesn't respond to a verbal warning a letter is sent out. After that, the officer could take the offender to court.

"It doesn't usually come to that and we don't want it to come to that," he said.

If it goes to court, it's often just a petty misdemeanor.

"The fine is minimal and they're just told to clean up the mess, which is what we did already," Eilers said.

The goal is to have people take some pride in their community, Walker said.

"People need to be respectful to their neighbors," he said.

Examples of a public nuisance

Deteriorated structures: Any structure or part of any structure that is because of fire, wind or other natural disaster or physical deterioration no longer habitable or useful.

High grass: Any grass or weeds allowed to attain a height in excess of 6 inches except vegetation on lakeshores, stream banks, wetlands or other areas where the ground is encouraged for environmental or erosion control purposes.

Junk or rubbish: Any material or substance stored in the open or not enclosed in a building which does not serve, nor is intended to serve, any useful purpose or the purpose for which it was originally intended, including but not limited to, refuse, empty cans, bottles, debris, used furniture, appliances, machinery parts, motor vehicle parts, vehicle tires, wood remnants, dead trees, shrubs or other vegetation, decayed, weathered or broken construction material no longer usable including metal or other cast off materials.

Noxious and virulent weeds: Any poison ivy, ragweed or any other weed, grass, bush or plants which are a fire hazard or otherwise detrimental to the health or appearance of a neighborhood.

Unsafe buildings: Any building or structure which is structurally unsafe, does not provide adequate egress, is dangerous to human life, or constitutes a hazard to safety, health or public welfare by reason of inadequate maintenance, dilapidation, obsolescence, fire hazard, disaster damage or abandonment.

Health is also a concern.

Piled up garbage can become a health issue if rodents or other animals are drawn to it.

To report a nuisance, call 732-3163.

Anna Erickson
Anna Erickson is editor of the Wadena Pioneer Journal.
(218) 631-2561