Mow Your Grass, Or Else

Jonesboro Code Enforcement officer Doug Little inspects a home in downtown Jonesboro. (KAIT/T.Chappelear)
Jonesboro Code Enforcement officer Doug Little inspects a home in downtown Jonesboro. (KAIT/T.Chappelear)

April 29, 2003
Posted at: 10:16 ap.m. CDT

JONESBORO, Ark. -- While maintaining your lawn is a summertime hobby for some and a chore for others, if it doesn't get done, Jonesboro residents could get fined.

Deep within what may seem like the small jungles of some Jonesboro neighborhoods, you may find a special type of officer roaming the land.

"If they would take care of their property, we wouldn't be there."

Doug Little is a Code Enforcement Officer for the city of Jonesboro. He is tasked with the duty of citing residential owners that fail to comply with city ordinances on failure to maintain their lawns.

"I've been called everything in the book. Some of them weren't that good," Little said.

Wearing a badge and a cool cotton shirt, Little is patrolling local neighborhoods much like he does every afternoon between April and October. The city ordinance on grass height has been on the books since 1958 and sometimes has been the source of debate.

"This takes the guess work out of it," Little says while holding up a 12-inch tall orange cone that serves as his measuring stick. "(The lawn) doesn't look like it's that deep, but as you can see, the yard needs to be mowed."

Little says that homeowners should know the law to in order to avoid a possible $75 fine. The "orange cone test" is what the grass must pass. If lawn growth is over a foot high, that's over the limit.

Fortunately for Little, Jonesboro isn't one of the towns in the state where code enforcement officials need a police escort to get them through to a cone dropping destination safely.

"I had a man pull a gun on me, and, I got in the truck and left. He called me later, and said: 'You could have taken me and put me in jail.' I said 'yea,' but when a man's got a gun on me, I leave."

City code officials say they don't have the resources to check on every piece of rental property for code violations, so the owners need to handle that themselves. You also get a chance to mow before you have to pay. City code enforcement says you have a week before they get a pen and pad to write a citation.