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Tall grass solution isn't clear cut

LAWTON, Okla._Lawton residents may be wondering why their neighbor’s lawn has become overgrown and why a lawnmower hasn’t been seen in weeks, but fixing the problem isn’t as clear cut as one would think.

The city of Lawton has issued almost 1,500 notices since the beginning of May for grass that's over twelve inches tall. Once the home owner is notified they have ten days to mow their lawn or the city will mow it for them, but then it will end up costing them a lot more money.

Joshua Doyle says it's frustrating to see the unkempt yard across the street when he works hard so keep his lawn looking good.

"We understand if they can't cut it every week, you know it's up for sale but since it's up for sale, you should be wanting to keep a nice neat clean appearance to try and sell it," said Doyle.

The whole process from noticing the problem to mowing the lawn can take up to three weeks. Lawton Community Services Director Richard Rogalski says in that time period the grass can get even taller.

"Some grass will start at twelve inches and get to sixteen and kind of stop but Bermuda grass doesn't really get much taller than that. But some weeds and grass can get like a tree by the time we're able to get out there," explained Rogalski.

Rogalski says he's sorry if you are one of those people that's called to complain but still looking at the overgrown lawn.

"We have six inspectors at the city and they cover the 58 square miles of the city of Lawton. We have 3,000 miles of streets that you have to drive up and down to patrol the city. And in a normal course, it unfortunately can take about thirty days to get around the whole city," said Rogalski.

Once they identify which lawns need to be mowed, the city only has three contractors to do all the work. Rogalski says they encourage people to call and complain because those six sets of eyes aren't enough, so people who call take priority and making those calls does seem to work. Over half of those 1,500 lawns that were called on were mowed by the property owners. He says proper lawn maintenance is a livability issue, which is actually an economic issue.

"Keeping the grass mowed supports the economy of our entire city. Beyond that on a personal level, I mean it's your home and your property value is affected by what your neighbor's do...that's why the city has this authority," explained Rogalski.

Doyle says he’s gotten so fed up with the tall grass near his home that he’s thought about taking matters into his own hands.

"I'm almost to a point where I'm going to go over there and cut it myself. I'm getting fed up, the city let them let it grown like that," said Doyle.

If you don't mow your lawn in the ten day period and the city does it for you, then you get a notice of cost and you have thirty days to pay it. If you don't pay the fine in time, a lien will be filed against your property.

If you have an unkempt lawn to report you can call (580)581-3371 to report it. Your name will remain anonymous.


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