By Debby Woodin
Property owners who have not obtained a permit yet to rebuild houses destroyed or damaged by the May 22 tornado can receive help from the city this year with mowing their lots if no other arrangements can be made.
City officials are encouraging lot owners to keep their lots mowed if they have not rebuilt or repaired yet. Those who cannot do the work themselves or cannot hire it done are asked to request assistance by May 18. City ordinances require that grass and weeds be no more than 12 inches tall.
There will be no charge for the first time a lot is mowed, according to city officials. The city usually charges $150 the first time it mows a private lot, according to Leslie Jones, finance director. The city normally mows about 850 lots a year, she said.
Residents are asked to have their grass and weeds cut by the May 22 tornado anniversary if they have not yet done so and have the resources.
“One of the reasons why our community has been so successful in our recovery efforts is because of our common sense approach and willingness to help each other through the challenges we’ve faced,” City Manager Mark Rohr said in a statement issued by the city. “As volunteers, dignitaries and the media return to Joplin around the one-year anniversary, we would ask residents to continue to do their part in welcoming our guests with a warm smile, heart-felt thanks, and a well-maintained yard, which all help to present our city in the best possible light.”
Those who need city assistance with mowing are asked to provide a right-of-entry form that will authorize city employees to access the property. The forms may be obtained from the Joplin Public Works Department on the fourth floor of City Hall, 602 S. Main St.
City officials ask that the forms be filed by 5 p.m. Friday, May 18. If that is done, there will be no charge for mowing through the end of this season or until the property owner can resume the work this year.
Those who do not file the form by May 18 will be responsible for seeing that grass and weeds are cut, city officials said. If the city mows the property and there is no right-of-entry form on file, the city will bill the property owner.
The city also is continuing to encourage residents to clear their lots of concrete driveways, foundations and patios if they have not done so. City action will start next month for those structures that have not yet been removed, Jones said.
She said that 2,140 properties have been cleared. There are 47 basements, 95 crawl spaces, 141 driveways, 66 slabs and 25 stairs to be done, with 20 lots left with debris. There are still 330 lots with depressions that are to be filled and 94 properties currently in the demolition phase, Jones said.
If the city mows a property more than once, the property owner is charged $150 and can receive a ticket for a city code violation. The fine on the first ticket is $50 plus court costs. The fine goes up each subsequent offense to $500 for the fifth violation.