North Charleston edge-your-sidewalk ordinance advances, with help promised for the elderly

Those who are capable of edging the grass and weeds along sidewalks will soon be required to do so in North Charleston, but for others, Mayor Keith Summey has promised assistance.

Poll results

We asked: Should residents be required to edge their lawns?

Here’s what you said:

34% Yes, either by a municipal government or homeowners association.

33% Only if they are part of a homeowners association.

27% No one should be required to do any sort of lawn care or maintenance.

7% I have no strong opinion.

Results as of 4 p.m. Thursday.

The mayor’s pledge Thursday helped sway some reluctant council members, and Councilman Bob King’s edge-your-sidewalk ordinance was approved 8-2, in the first of two votes required. Council is expected to give the plan final approval at a meeting in November.

Property owners — homeowners and businesses, including landlords — will be required to keep the city-owned sidewalks abutting their properties free of grass, weeds, debris and overgrown bushes, under threat of a fine that could reach as much as $1,000 with court fees.

Councilman Todd Olds expressed reservations about the regulations, saying that his district includes lots of elderly folks, and they’ve been displeased by the plan.

“The edging is what the constituency I am dealing with has a problem with,” Olds said. “They have no problem with cutting the grass.”

The city already requires property owners to keep grass and weeds cut, to a point. Grass would have to be more than a foot high to draw a code enforcement citation. King has said the problem is, people cut their grass, but don’t bother edging the sidewalks, so grass grows onto the pathways.

Summey said that if a property owner is truly unable to edge the sidewalk, they not only won’t be cited, but the city will arrange for someone to do the edging at no expense to the property owner.

“They will not be cited, they will not be fined, and we will find someone to do the work for them,” the mayor said.

He suggested that lawbreakers sentenced to perform community service work could get that assignment.

Olds asked the mayor to put his pledge in writing, but Summey noted that his comments were both recorded and videotaped as part of the City Council meeting.

Assuaged, Olds joined the majority in voting for the ordinance. Council members Rhonda Jerome and Bobby Jameson voted against the regulations, and Dot Williams, who opposed the ordinance at an earlier committee meeting, was absent.

No city property owners spoke on the issue, and the meeting was lightly attended.

The ordinance is the latest of several moves this year to regulate the appearance of properties in North Charleston.

Earlier this year, the city took aim at unsightly fences and unkempt shrubbery. An ordinance that would limit the height of front-yard fences to four feet, while also regulating acceptable materials and the height of shrubbery, was most recently sent back to committee for more study.

City Council did give the city greater code enforcement powers with which to address commercial buildings that were in disrepair, despite objections by some real estate interests.

Reach David Slade at 937-5552 or Twitter @DSladeNews.

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