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Ogdensburg officials warn residents to cut grass or face fines

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One picturesque sign of spring in Ogdensburg - a lush, green, rain-fed lawn or field - can also run a property owner afoul of the city code if there is too much of it.

Code Enforcement Officer Gregg A. Mallette said Tuesday that the warnings have already gone out to city property owners whose grass, brush and weed growth exceeds 10 inches in height.

“We’ve probably called in 25 in the last week,” he said.

Those calls went to the city Department of Public Works, which sends certified letters to the property owner to cut the overgrowth in five days. Otherwise, DPW will send a crew to do the job.

And that costs the property owner a charge of labor plus 10 percent and a $100 fine. Public Works administrative assistant Maureen Manke said Tuesday the total charge usually amounts to $140.

It’s better to take care of the overgrown lawn yourself, Mr. Mallette said.

“It’s not cheap to have the city cut your grass,” he said. “The city does not want to be in the lawn-mowing business on private property.”

A full accounting of the 2011 warnings and charges/fines wasn’t available Tuesday.

But Mrs. Manke said that, overall, the ratio of compliance to paying the city to do the mowing is “50-50.”

As for last week’s round of warnings, Mrs. Manke said the deadline to comply is this week.

The city ordinance forbids the overgrowth because in the case of vegetation such as poison ivy and ragweed, it poses a potential health hazard.

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