LaHarpe City Council targets weedy lawns, street repairs



May 12, 2016 - 12:00 AM

LAHARPE — About this time every year Jason Prock re-acquaints himself with a number of LaHarpe property owners.

And the “hello” isn’t always welcomed. 

In his role as LaHarpe code enforcement officer, it’s Prock’s responsibility to remind residents of their responsibility to keep their lawns mowed. 

“Every year about this time, we send the same notices to the same people,” Prock, who also serves as LaHarpe police chief, told city council members Wednesday. “Last week alone, I sent out 12 notices.”

He has proposed the city streamline its weed notification ordinances, to make it easier to force property owners to mow their lawns, or pay for LaHarpe to do it.

Current policy mandates the city send a certified letter to the offending property owners. Grass must be kept below 12 inches.

The problem is, it can take up to a month or longer after notices are sent before the city can mow the offending properties.

Certified letters must be resent twice if the property owner does not immediately respond, Prock explained.

He suggested an ordinance similar to Moran’s, in which a public notice is published once a year in the newspaper.

Then, if lawns become overgrown, property owners can be cited promptly.

Council members directed Prock to visit with City Attorney Chuck Apt about drafting such an ordinance. The new policy likely would not have much impact until 2017, he noted.

Councilman David Lee offered one caveat. He suggested the city ensure it follows its own advice.

For example, LaHarpe PRIDE members have had to take it upon themselves to pay for the fuel for local resident Ed Hoover to mow the city park because the grass there was unacceptably high.

“We need to make sure our house is in order if we go through with this,” Lee said. “If not, it will come back to bite us.”

Councilwoman Sara’Nicole Prock, the police chief’s wife, said she has fielded complaints as well about tall grass in the LaHarpe Cemetery, but noted the cemetery is not within city limits, and is outside the Council’s jurisdiction.

In a related matter, Kelly Rouse, city superintendent, said she hoped to educate local residents about the importance of keeping ditches free of leaves, limbs and lawn clippings.

She and volunteer firefighters have used fire hoses to blast out drainage whistles crammed with debris.