City’s looks still council agenda topic
An ordinance amending the City of Clinton’s rules concerning weed control will be on the agenda at this week’s City Council meeting, scheduled at 5:30 p.m. today (Tuesday) at City Hall.
Other items on the agenda include a report to the council by the Clinton Economic Development Authority, which is searching for an economic development director for the city, and a presentation on “long-term planning” by former councilman Mustafa Sami. He was among several citizens who had a lot to say at a recent meeting about the tumultuous fireworks situation before, during and after this year’s Fourth of July holiday.
The subject of property appearances was brought up at the Aug. 21 meeting by Councilman Jason Hulin who asked if City Inspector Toby Anders could take a look at two properties that he said were not being kept up. Both were on N. 13th Street, one at 420 N. 13th and the other at 510 N. 13th.
“The weeds are really high,” said Hulin, whose Ward 1 includes that area. He said N. 13th is a well traveled route to the Washington School Fifth and Sixth Grade Center, and he felt it needed attention.
City Manager Mark Skiles said situations like that can’t be addressed until the weeds reach a certain height. “We’ll try to be aggressive and get after it,” he said. “If they’re not addressed within 10 days, we can bring ’em to court.”
But even from the time of a court appearance, the legalities can still take three weeks before anything gets done, he said.
“No action is possible until we go through the court system?” asked Mayor David Berrong.
“We can’t be a bully,” responded Skiles.
Councilman Don Rodolph did not want his Ward 2 to be forgotten, either.
“Don’t forget the location on 20th Street,” he said to Skiles. “I mentioned it to you a month ago.”
Councilman Bobby Stewart wanted to know what the maximum allowable height for weeds is. Somebody thought it was 10 or 12 inches.
Berrong said issues like this have been one of the most frustrating things for him since he’s been on the council. He called the situation “beyond common sense.”
Hulin mentioned another property where Anders apparently had been able to get some action, without saying where it was. “They removed all the weeds,” said Hulin. “It looks like they’re getting ready to tear it down. It was fantastic.”
“It’s a high level of frustration on my part,” Berrong repeated. “We’re as serious about this ugliness as the rest of the city is.”
That brought a comment from Skiles on a different but related subject. “We get calls about the street lights not working,” he said. “The vast majority of them are owned by PSO (Public Service Company of Oklahoma). He said electric bills have a phone number on them that people can call when they see a street light out.
“Please ask ’em to call PSO and turn the address in,” said Skiles.
The meeting then adjourned. However, the agenda for this week’s council session contains a copy of Ordinance 992 which City Attorney Ryan Meacham had drawn up “providing for the regulating of aesthetics of property within the city limits, providing for the severability thereof, and declaring an emergency.”
It first defines a weed to include “poison ivy, poison oak, or poison sumac” but says it also shall include vegetation exceeding six inches in height except healthy trees, shrubs or produce for human consumption “grown in a tended and cultivated garden.” Even those items, though, would be on the hit list if they “by their density or location constitute a detriment to the health, benefit and welfare of the public and community or a hazard to traffic,” or if they create a fire hazard to the property or otherwise interfere with its mowing.
Regardless of their height, the proposed ordinance also said vegetation can be considered weeds if it:
Harbors, conceals or invites accumulation of refuse or trash;
Harbors rodents or vermin;
Gives off unpleasant or noxious odors;
Is a fire or traffic hazard;
Is diseased or dead.
The term “weed” would not apply to tended crops on land zoned for agricultural use if they are planted more than 150 feet from land zoned for non-agricultural use.
If weeds are abated, which means the city does the cutting or hires it done and then charges the property owner, the amendment would require the owner to be notified in advance of what the costs are expected to be. The owner could then request a hearing within five days after the notice is mailed.