WEEDS AND GRASS AND HEIGHT REGULATIONS
The goal of the City in the compliance of this code is to ensure that the health, safety and/or welfare of the community is not being compromised. The height limit is set within the ordinance and does not differentiate between non-compliant sporadic weeds/grass and properties that are obviously out of compliance. Section 18-53 of the Code of Ordinances requires that all properties maintain an acceptable vegetation height limit. Generally the height limit is 1 foot (12 inches) per platted lot less than an acre, and 1 ½ feet (18 inches) for undeveloped tracts larger than 1 acre.
Ordinance 1080/1089 (Code of Ordinances Section 18) were enacted in 1990 and are intended to ensure that properties within the city limits are kept in a safe, sightly, and sanitary manner; safe guarding the public against rodent/pest habitation, and preventing the spread of fire or disease. This ordinance also helps keep our community clean and prevents litter from being captured by overgrown vegetation. The majority of communities around us and throughout the country have similar local ordinance or are enforced by state law. It is not the intention of the City of Andrews to be heavy handed in enforcing this ordinance rather to take a customer friendly approach to ensure that everyone is being treated fairly and reaching a higher level of compliance.
The Texas Health and Safety Code Chapter 343, sets guidelines passed by the State Legislature. Local ordinances 1080/1089 use the guidelines set by the state in the Texas Health and Safety Code (THSC) to ensure that all properties are being maintained in a sanitary manner.
The city will send at least one notice per year to property owners that are in violation in accordance with THSC 342.006 and Andrews Code of ordinance section 18-54.
WHY WE POST OR MAIL CERTIFIED NOTICES:
In the City of Andrews we are served by only one State Registered Code Enforcement Officer (a.k.a Code Compliance Inspector) and inspections for a town of over 10,000 are time consuming and can render it impossible to have one-on-one contact with everyone. The code compliance inspector handles a multitude of codes and violations other than vegetation, and although we would love to make personal contact with everyone for every violation, it can become very time consuming and detrimental to ensuring the highest level of compliance.
The state law prescribes that a city must notify the owner by mail or by a posting on the property and although we are generally received well in personal contact we would have no recourse if an owner decides not to comply with the personal contact. Most people will receive a notice either by posting or by certified mail notice that is worded in a legal and generally direct manner to ensure that if the City has to take recourse to remedy the violation that the City has fairly, properly and legally notified the owner as required. We pride ourselves in the fairness and customer service we provide, and will be fair to everyone. We ask that if you receive a notice and have any questions or feel that it was received in error that you please make contact with the code compliance inspector.
HOW INSPECTIONS ARE CONDUCTED:
Code Compliance Inspections are generally conducted in a non-discriminate "sweep" manner on a block-by-block basis or by received complaint. Violations are handled as prescribed by law and further action on the part of the city generally takes a little bit longer and will cost the owner. We try to address the most severe issues in a manner of what is most detrimental to the public, rather than received complaints, but all complaints will be addressed and dealt with accordingly.
Common misconception #1:
A property owner receives a notice and complies but a neighbor has yet to comply. Did the code compliance inspector not take note of the neighbor’s property conditions or send them a notice?
The neighbor more than likely was sent notice and either did not receive it or has just neglected to comply. When this happens the inspector has to place the property on a schedule for city remediation and/or court action and is awaiting further action by a contractor or municipal court. When the city is required to take further action the due process is not always expedient considering the load on the contractors and the court.
Common misconception #2:
If a person does not accept the Certified Mail or removes the posted Notice can they neglect to comply without consequence?
No. The Inspector documents all notices sent or posted and keep such records for further action. It is common in practice that if notice is disregarded the city will continue with further action as instructed by law.
Common misconception #3:
Isn’t the city required to notify a property owner every single time they violate this ordinance?
No. Sending a notice for every occurrence was a practice for the city prior to having a (sole-capacity) Code Compliance Inspector. In the past several years the city has grown and it is common that many of the same owners often fail to comply requiring the city to take further action. This puts a strain on the resources available to efficiently patrol and communicate with other property owners. The city has used the authority granted by the state through THSC 342.006 to only notify owners annually. The law requires the city to send notices via-certified mail or by posting on the property. Yard stakes and certified mail can become very expensive and your tax dollars will not be spent to notify the same property owners multiple times throughout the year. The notices sent also state in bold that "
The City is only required to send one (1) notice of violation per year".
Common misconception #4:
Contacting a supervisor will cause quicker action.
This statement is incorrect because all complaints will be handled in the manner received and addressed by severity. The law still regulates and trumps any action that an inspector or city official can take as remedy. This ordinance requires that 10 day notice be given unless the growth is over 4 feet tall the city must take action as prescribed by law and the code. Even after the legal time to comply expires there are numerous properties that must either be filed in court or placed on the list with a contractor, once the action is taken we are left at the mercy of the court or the contractor neither of which are under our control.