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Overgrown Lawns Are a Costly Safety Concern

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- One Des Moines business owner is fed up with his neighbors’ tall grass.

Do you live in a neighborhood where everyone keeps up with their lawn? Some residents in the metro area aren't so lucky.

“As I come down the street and check my properties before I come into work, the first thing I see is that I can’t see part of my building that says Park Fair Jewelers,” said Tony Rehan.

He says the culprit is the 3- to 4-foot tall grass across the street.

Rehan owns the jewelry store and said he took it upon himself to mow the lawn when he found out the property owner lives out of state.

“One of the owners got pretty frustrated that I was doing that and I go, ‘Really? I’m not charging,’” he said.

But the Polk County Weed Commission is charging.

When the commission gets a complaint, it will check to make sure the grass is over a foot tall. Then it will give the property owner seven days to take care of it. After that, the county mows and the owner is looking at a bill for $135 per hour mowing, $146 per hour for weed-eating.

Tall grass isn’t just unsightly, it’s a safety issue. If there’s a small child, there’s no way a driver would be able to see the child trying to cross the street.

“When the crossing guard comes to walk kids across the street … you can’t see em,’” Rehan  said.

Residents in other neighborhoods are dealing with similar issues, worrying it would make people who are considering moving in think twice.

“The first thing they’re going to think of overgrown lawns and stuff like that is that they think abandoned house and what else is going on over there,” said Jeff Johnson, Des Moines resident.

Polk County tries to work on 1,030 of these yards a day, but in order to get it on their radar, they need residents to report it. To file a complaint you can go to www.polkcountyiowa.gov/publicworks.