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Overgrown weeds, grass pose health risk

With so much recent rain, Columbia residents may be seeing more lawns and weeds growing out of control.

Since October, there have been nearly 800 weed and grass violations in the city. Unruly grass or weeds that are 12 inches or taller are a violation of the city health code.

Columbia Neighborhood Services manager Leigh Britt said apart from being an eyesore, overgrown lots can be a health and safety risk.

“It’s a harborage for rats, snakes, mice, insects and also conceals trash, litter and debris,” Britt said. “That can be a serious issue for the businesses, restaurants and the residents that live nearby.”

If the city gets a complaint, an inspector will go out to measure the reported weeds or grass. And if it is a violation, the city will send notice to the property owner, giving them some time to mow and come into compliance.

“Twelve inches may seem tall,” Britt said. “But when you start looking at properties, it doesn’t take very many weeks to pass with the grass, and especially with this much moisture to grow to that height.”

Britt said owners mow after that in most cases. But if they don’t, the weeds can be declared a nuisance and the city will send a contractor to mow the property.

“The city does employ a couple of part-time folks during the summer because we have such an increase of tall grass or weeds during the summer months,” Britt said.

That can cost property owners at least $90 to $150 for most residential lots. And the owner will be billed in the form of a tax lien.

Britt said the city charged nearly 40 property owners last year, and said the Neighborhood Services Office is on track to do at least that many more this year.

If you see an overgrown nuisance property, you can file a report with the city by calling Neighborhood Services at (573)817-5050 on online here.

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