The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

December 19, 2013

Grass ordinance draws cutting opinions

By Joe Pinchot
Herald Staff Writer

HERMITAGE — Harland Pifer understands Hermitage city officials’ desire to want to amend the grass cutting ordinance to deal with vacant lots on which a structure once stood.

But, it does not address a lot in his neighborhood he has complained about for several years.

“It will do me no good in my situation,” Pifer added.

The ordinance requires that the grass be kept to no higher than 8 inches tall on lots that have a house or other structure on them. If the ordinance introduced Wednesday is adopted, lots that once held a structure would be subject to the same standard.

Lots, that is, from which a structure is razed after the effective date of the ordinance.

Pifer has complained about a lot in the 800 block of Crawford Drive, which has been overgrown since a house was torn down. The owner does not have to cut it because there is no structure on it. The lot would not be subject to the amended ordinance because the structure was taken down before the effective date.

So, the Crawford lot will remain an eyesore and an occasional rat haven.

“Is this going to devalue our properties when we go to sell some day?” Pifer said.

Commissioner Rita Ferringer voted against introducing the ordinance because is imposes an eternal requirement, something she says is burdensome to property owners.

She gave as an example the Baker Street property from which the city demolished two houses this fall. The lot is too small on which to build a new house, she said. Unless neighbors buy the property, it has no value; yet, the property owner still would be required to maintain it.

“What happens to that property?” Ferringer said. “You’re going to have to cut the grass forever.”

Given that the property owner, Joseph Toth of Sharon, did not respond to city demolition orders nor defend himself when the city sought and received a court order for demolition, the city could end up paying for the grass cutting.

“I understand their issue, being next to a house,” she said of the proposal. “I don’t know the answer. I think we’re putting a burden on people that never ends.”

Commissioners set a public hearing and final vote on the ordinance proposal for Jan. 22.