New Albany subdivision residents now are required to keep their grass cut under eight inches after city council passed an ordinance June 21 regulating "turf grass swards."

New Albany subdivision residents now are required to keep their grass cut under eight inches after city council passed an ordinance June 21 regulating "turf grass swards."

"This has been written in the simplest form possible to address specifically grass growing on lawns," said deputy city manager Debra Mecozzi.

Mecozzi presented the legislation at the June 21 council meeting, where it was approved in a 5-0 vote. Mayor Nancy Ferguson and Chris Wolfe were absent.

Mecozzi said the legislation was written to address lots with vacant homes that have unmowed lawns. It excludes agricultural areas, "rough" areas on golf courses, educational and research land and meadows.

"There are exemptions in the proposed language, including, but not limited to, areas cultivated specifically for wildflowers, vegetable gardens (and) landscaped planting beds, riparian stream corridors, wetlands, platted conservation or preservation areas, agricultural fields, 'rough' areas of golf courses or areas used primarily for educational and/or research purposes, so long as the growths are controlled, managed and maintained," council's legislative report said.

The legislation was introduced at the June 7 council meeting. At that meeting, Ferguson requested city staff members meet with residents who have natural meadows in part of their yards.

Local environmentalist Bill Resch, who is building a home on Morgan Road and plans to have a meadow in part of his yard, said the ordinance was a good compromise that would continue to allow some natural areas in the city. He said the key factor is that the ordinance concerns "platted properties."

"The historic village center and platted subdivisions have initially adopted on development turf grass as their primary landscape design," Resch said. "Other properties in the village are rural remnants, where historically they have natural vegetation or meadows, and the ordinance allows for that type of landscaping for nonplatted housing in our (city)."

As an example, he cited the land on Dublin-Granville Road between the Jeanne B. McCoy Community Center for the Arts and the McCoy center's offices on Johnstown Road. A creek runs through the property and the grass in the area, in which wildflowers bloom all year, is permitted to grow higher than eight inches, Resch said.

Council member Glyde Marsh said he feels the legislation does not control the growth of weeds and said it was "sloppily prepared." City attorney Mitch Banchefsky said the city could still use the state's definition of noxious weeds to prevent tall weeds from growing in the city.

Council member Colleen Briscoe, serving as council president pro tempore in Ferguson's absence, said the ordinance was not written poorly and it is meant to address yards only.

"It doesn't do everything," she said. "But it's better to have it than not to have it."

Mecozzi said the legislation was amended to include the ward "swards" on the recommendation of an agronomist. A sward is a stretch of short grass or turf.

Once a complaint is filed, the city's zoning officer would notify the resident advising that the lawn must be mowed within seven days. If the lawn is not mowed in seven days, the city could then mow the lot. If the owner did not pay the costs of mowing within 30 days, the city could forward the costs to the county auditor's office to be placed as a lien on the property, according to the legislative report.