June 18, 2014 - A group of concerned residents from the Oxford Woods subdivision came to last week's township board meeting with one request – adopt an ordinance to deal with properties where the growth of grass and weeds is not being controlled by the owner.
A group of Oxford Woods residents want the township to adopt an ordinance to deal with homes like this in their subdivision. Photo by C.J. Carnacchio. (click for larger version)
"I was very surprised when I heard that there was no ordinance," said Kathy Schulz. "I'm sure there is in the Village of Oxford. I was just really surprised that we have no recourse (in the township)."
At issue is an occupied house located in a prominent spot within the subdivision, just south of W. Drahner Rd.
"We're not talking (about) somebody who hasn't cut their weeds in a day or two or a week," said Sally O'Meara, a nurse who recently moved here from Illinois. "We're talking waist-high weeds. This is a definite eyesore. And it makes Oxford Township look really bad . . . As a whole, it makes Oxford look really shabby."
There's a great concern that this home's appearance is negatively impacting the surrounding properties and the subdivision as a whole.
"It's affecting the home values," said Mick Steiner. "It can affect the pride of the owners there. It can affect first-time buyers. They are not going to buy a house next to a home that looks like that."
There was also a strong concern that this overgrown yard poses a threat to public health and safety.
That issue was raised Denise May, a registered nurse.
"I took my little guy for a walk the other day and there is either a rat or a groundhog or something that is scurrying around in his yard," she said. "I really feel that you guys need to address this. If there are rats around his home, which I really think that there are, then we need to do something about it because it's not safe."
"That is a great source of living material for rats," she said.
O'Meara also expressed her concern about potential "squatters" breaking into the home and living there.
Janet Douglas, a 27-year Oxford resident who lives directly across from the house, is "tired" of looking at it.
"This house is deplorable. The lawn is deplorable," she said. "Day in and day out, I look at it. This has been going on for several years . . . I just don't think I have to live like that and look at that house."
All of the Oxford Woods residents at the meeting agreed the township needs to do something and they implored the board to enact a noxious weed ordinance.
"If you want to make sure that homes look attractive and that they're safe (for the public) to live around, please do pass this ordinance," O'Meara said.
"We want something in place so that whenever something like this takes place throughout the entire township, there's some recourse," Schulz said.
Schulz noted she and her husband have been trying to personally assist the homeowner in question.
"It's not that we want to come down hard on this gentleman," she said. "We want to be of help."
The township board will discuss the issue of potentially creating a weed/grass ordinance at its 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 9 meeting.
This will be the fourth time since 1998 that township officials have considered creating such an ordinance.
In the past, the issue has been researched and discussed at length, but no ordinance was ever approved by the board.
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.