New abatement timeline would discourage repeat violations of property maintenance codes

With heavy spring rains giving way to early summer sunshine, tall grass and overgrown weeds can quickly become an unsightly issue when not properly maintained in neighborhoods across the City.

So, the Dearborn City Council has amended the ordinance that addresses residential property maintenance. The amendment allows more timely action against property owners who violate high grass and weed ordinances repeatedly.  

The ordinance amendment extends the timeframe for violations to be considered under the repeat offender rule from a single calendar year to a two-year period.

The other rules and regulations of the Immediate Abatement Section of the Nuisance Code remain intact, including the requirement for grass and weeds to be cut to six inches or less year-round.

Under the new amendment, offenders can be treated as repeat offenders based on violations and conduct from the previous year.

This means owners who received notice for property violations the previous spring or summer can be treated as repeat offenders the first time they are cited in the current season.

This new process will allow City officials to be more proactive in addressing blight and maintenance issues, and ensure that many of these cases can be fixed more quickly than under the previous abatement timeframe.

Currently, a first-time offender is given three days to comply with an abatement demand, followed by one day for a recheck of the property and two additional days to generate an abatement work order and notify non-occupying owners (landlords). Abatement is generally performed on the sixth day.

In the case of repeat offenders, the notice of violation is provided to the property owner and occupant and, on the same day, the abatement work order is generated. If there is non-compliance, abatement is generally performed on the third day.

The compliance process allows for reasonable timeframes to address the problem, while ensuring that long-term and repeat issues won’t linger.

The penalty for violating the ordinance is a $100 fine for the first offense, which is considered a civil infraction. For second and subsequent offenses, the property owner is issued a $500 fine, which is considered a misdemeanor.

In addition to tall grass and weeds, the ordinance also outlines codes regarding outside storage of building materials, vehicles and vehicle parts; the accumulation of trash, yard waste, and other debris; proper disposal of animal waste; and other conditions that can prevent the upkeep of healthy and happy neighborhoods for all residents.

All of these regulations and the ensuing abatement would be subject to the new two-year repeat offender timeframe.

City inspectors will respond to violations reported by a neighbor, and will be on the lookout for situations that are highly visible and already causing a nuisance on the residential block.

All violations can be reported to Neighborhood Services at 313-943-2161.

More details about property maintenance rules and abatement procedures can be found at https://library.municode.com/index.aspx?clientId=12465.