ST. LOUIS — Lush, green grass is a welcome sign of spring.
It can also bring a warning: maintain your property or else.
"I gotta say, considering the circumstances, I don't think people should have to worry about mowing their grass," said Larry Tourangeau, a St. Louis property owner.
Recently, Tourangeau received four grass cutting notices from the City of St. Louis. The notices warned him that if grass on his properties got too high, the city would come in and cut it for him at a cost of $108 per hour.
"None of the grass is even long. I did have somebody I know check them and they said, 'They're not even long, I can't even mow it!'" said Tourangeau, who lives in St. Joseph but has a local staff to maintain his St. Louis properties.
Tourangeau called the city's forestry division. City crews already were scheduled to mow one of his four properties.
The I-Team did some digging and found under city ordinance, Tourangeau should've received a specific notice pointing out what exactly was in violation with his property and letting him know how much time he had to fix the problem before the city stepped in to mow.
"The notices aren't even dated," said Tourangeau. "I think it's a money situation. They want to make money."
In a statement, Jacob Long, the Director of Communications for the City of St. Louis, told the I-Team:
"City ordinance requires the Forestry Division to alert owners of vacant properties via letter that they need to cut and maintain their grass and yards, and if they would like the City to do it, we are happy to do so with the understanding they’ll receive a bill for the work.
"It is important, especially now, to ensure tall, unkept grass is maintained because according to the City’s Department of Health, lawns that are not properly maintained attract vectors known to transmit very serious communicable diseases."
We asked the city why Tourangeau was put on the city's cutting schedule when he said his grass wasn't long and he wasn't notified of a specific violation.
In an email, Long said, "Vacant property owners are on the mow list because often times, they don’t cut or mow their yards or weeds. [This] gentlemen has been asked to be removed from our list."
"I don't think people should have to worry about mowing their grass," said Tourangeau.
But if you live in the city, you're not getting a pass on yard maintenance.
"This is the reason that under the City’s mandatory 30-day stay-at-home order, yard work is permitted," said Long. "The City’s undertaken extraordinary precautions to ensure our Forestry crews have access to personal protective equipment (PPE) and other cleaning, sanitizing supplies so we can continue to provide essential services that our residents and businesses expect and deserve.
"Individuals in the City are allowed to work in their yards and be outside to do so under our stay at home order, but are encouraged to be mindful of their surroundings and maintain six feet apart, as recommended by CDC social distancing guidelines."
If you want to know if your property is on the city's cut schedule, contact the city's forestry division at: 314-613-7200.