Irmo leaders are looking at a 6-inch maximum for the height of lawns at rental homes.
If adopted, the requirement would keep some yards in town the lowest among major Midlands communities.
Mayor Hardy King is pushing the limit as a way to crack down on overgrown yards that he said stem largely from inattention among renters and landlords.
The current 12-inch ceiling for rental residences isn’t ending complaints about unkempt yards, he said.
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“We need to put in more teeth to make sure they are kept up,” King said.
Overgrown yards are a sign of neighborhood decay that shouldn’t be tolerated, according to homeowners pressing town leaders for more attention to the condition of yards.
“It’s weeds that grow tall – it’s weeds that are unsightly,” longtime resident Elmer Danko said. “There are problems, especially rentals, from neglect.”
About 600 of 4,600 homes are rented in the town of 12,000 residents straddling the Lexington-Richland County border, census estimates say.
Other town leaders agree with the push to keep lawns mowed but may be more lenient on the maximum height allowed.
Mirroring the 8 to 10 inches of growth permitted by some nearby communities probably will solve the problem without making yard upkeep onerous, they say.
“I don’t want to take it too far,” Councilwoman Kathy Condom said.
A 6-inch limit is slightly more than three golf balls stacked on top of each other.
Town officials measure lawn height only when a problem is apparent, with landlords given 10 days to mow or fined up to $500.
Warnings usually are sufficient to get an overgrown lawn mowed within the period specified, Police Chief Brian Buck said.
That was the case last summer after 342 warnings were issued but no one faced a fine, a level that Buck said is typical.
The 6-inch restriction in the works for yards at rental homes could become a model extended to all residences in Irmo.
“Once we find what works and what doesn’t, we may apply it across the board to all homes,” King said.
Lawn height limits in many other communities apply uniformly regardless of type of occupancy.
Such requirements are common as part of controls for neighborhood sanitation, upkeep and appearance.
Irmo needs to be more aggressive in protecting neighborhoods and making sure maintenance requirements are obeyed, Danko said. “It’s important if they put a law on the books, they enforce it,” he said.