No Weed Police

Loudon County planner, Russ Newman, made his pitch at Monday's commission meeting to establish his office as the county weed police. Newman gave a brief explanation as to how and why he felt this would be a good thing. Commissioner Nancy Marcus, who was not at last weeks workshop when the matter was discussed, made a motion to establish the weed police. Commissioner Wayne Gardin seconded the motion stating that he thought this would be a good idea because he had had "these" kind of problems in his district.

Newman's proposal would have allowed his office to force owner occupied private property owners to mow grass and trim trees to county requirements or his office could do it if the property owner refused and bill the property owners. If the property owners refused to pay the county, the county could then place a lien against the private property. 

Commissioners Austin Shaver, Earlena Maples, Bob Franke, Roy Bledsoe and Don Miller all voiced opposition to the motion. Apparently realizing there was very little support for her motion, Marcus withdrew her motion followed by Gardin withdrawing his second to the motion. Therefore Newman's recommendation failed for lack of a motion. No weed police.

After the meeting several residents in attendance at the meeting voiced concerns that both Marcus and Gardin seemed more concerned about overgrown vegetation than education. This after both voted against funding the school building program.

County government staying out of weeds

Loudon County Planner, Russ Newman

Mary E. Hinds News Herald

Monday, members of the county commission discussed regulating overgrown vegetation on owner-occupied lots and giving the county the power to place a lien on properties to pay for any clean-up done by the county's work crews. In the event the lien was not satisfied the county could, in theory, foreclose on that property.  

County Planner Russ Newman said the county planning commission recommended the resolution be passed. "I renew my objection," County Commissioner Austin Shaver said adding the idea was "a wholly inappropriate area for county government to be engaged in." 

He also said the plan could have the effect of turning neighbor against neighbor and could lead to hard feelings. 

Commissioner Bob Franke said there are properties currently vacant that are overgrown that the county does not enforce a clean up on.

Newman said his office doesn't have the staff to enforce clean-up rules everywhere in the county and only moves when they receive a specific compliant. Newman also said some people are reluctant to speak to an offending neighbor for fear of offending someone they have to live next to, so they prefer authorities handle it.

Commissioner Earlena Maples said she could not vote for the measure since having an overgrown yard could indicate a family going through hard times, not just being lazy.

Commission Chairman Roy Bledsoe brought up another potential problem with the measure. He said he had spoken to a farmer in his district who was concerned people would object to his hay fields growing tall as he waited for the right time to cut the hay. "I prefer this not to pass," Bledsoe said. 

Commissioner Don Miller referred to the situation as a fine line between the rights of property owners and their neighbors. He said after further reflection, he preferred to leave things as they are and that the commission could revisit the idea if necessary. 

After more discussion, Commissioner Nancy Marcus, who had moved to support the matter, withdrew her motion effectively killing the proposal.