Friday, August 8, 2008

Some Drama In The 'Hood

So, I have to blog this because I think it's interesting and wonder what others out there in the Interweebs might think about it. When B and I started looking at houses in our new city back in March, we fell in love with our current neighborhood as well as the house itself. The area is quiet, wooded, and full of wildlife. The only possible problem we had with buying the house (which didn't hinder us at all) was our neighbor's yard. According to our real estate agent, this particular neighbor had decided a long time ago to have a "naturalized lawn". Don't let that link fool you. That's not what he's been doing. Basically, at some point he stopped mowing his grass and let weeds take over his yard. His house is situated at the corner of our cul-de-sac and another street. If you were to drive through our neighborhood yesterday and pass his house, you wouldn't have known that there was even a house there because the weeds would have been obstructing your view. He also kept a couple of old cars in the driveway and even had steel pipes hanging off the branches of one of the trees. That's not "naturalized landscaping". That's just lazy homeownership and the beginnings of a vacant lot! Apparently, he was fined numerous times by the city in the past and even went to local court about his inability to take care of his lawn. I've heard several stories from our neighbors and our real estate agent (who also happens to live in our neighborhood) that he was sued by the court, and then, he turned around and sued the city. It had something to do with the fact that in an urban area (at least in our city), the grasses can't reach a height of more than 8 inches. I guess he argued with the court about what constituted "grasses". Anyway, from what I've been told (and it's all hearsay, mind you, from several different sources), the court had to start all over again. It sounds like the local neighbors didn't get their fair share of communication with the courts about how they felt. I don't know how it all got started again, but our realtor and a local neighbor both contacted us about supporting their efforts to have the city essentially come in and mow down his lawn. We were all for it and ready to sign petitions or go to meetings about it. Yesterday, while I was being a dutiful neighbor and mowing my lawn, weeding my flowerbeds, and pruning the hedges (of many small villages), I noticed a city truck parked outside our neighbor's house and people taking pictures and walking around his yard. This morning, my phone rang, and it was our realtor. She called to tell me that there were policemen, government officials, and neighbors outside of the house watching as landscapers came in and straightened up his yard. She asked me if I could go outside and support the neighbors who were there, which I immediately did. V had fun watching the bush hogs and lawnmowers work their magic as well as exploring the sidewalks and neighbors' driveways. I got to witness our government at work, and I met some of my new neighbors, all of whom were so happy to see the eyesore disappear. The owner of the house was there, documenting the whole thing on his camera. There was a lady from the Environmental Protection Agency there, as well. One of my neighbors said that she would normally be there in support of the "naturalist", but apparently, she was supporting the neighborhood and making sure the correct plants were cut down and that everything was done by the book. My neighbor thinks she'll get a lot of flack from her office because she wasn't supporting the owner's right to a weeded yard. However, after looking at the above website and some other information on "naturalized lawns", I realize that he wasn't doing it correctly at all. After he took some pictures, he came over to where I was standing in front of my house and introduced himself. A policeman followed him over, probably to make certain there were no confrontations between us. When he found out that we had moved in across the street from him, he basically asked "So, my yard didn't hinder you from buying your house, huh?" I politely told him that we were concerned by the look of his lawn, but that we also loved the rest of the neighborhood and the house, and that's why we decided to move there. He handed me a piece of paper that he said would give me an explanation on why he kept his lawn the way he did. He also said he might try to talk to us tomorrow about it, basically in the hopes to "convert" others to his cause (his words). The page he gave me is an excerpt from a radio program, in which naturalized landscaping is mentioned and it's connection with protecting our environment and natural wildlife. While it does mention giving our lawnmowers a rest and that naturalized yards are hindered by ordinances prohibiting lawns with grasses over 8 inches, the websites listed at the bottom of the page have very little to do with urban landscapes. One of the websites is linked above. The other is at the EPA's website. Just so I'm clear about this, I am all for anything that helps to protect our environment, but not if it endangers people and possibly animals. This guy's lawn wasn't full of beautiful wildflowers that would attract butterflies and the like. It was full of weeds and God-knows-what-else (plus the pipes hanging from the tree). If V and I had happened to walk by his yard one day, V could have easily wandered in there and possibly injured himself or gotten poison ivy or something more dangerous. I feel that if this gentleman wanted to have a natural landscape around him, he shouldn't have bought a house in an urban area with neighbors who like their yards manicured. He would have had much more support if he lived in the country with lots of acreage and fields of wildflowers. The irony in all of this is that he is apparently a successful real estate agent himself, which begs the question: how can you make a living off helping people find beautiful homes, when you can't keep your own home beautiful? Anyway, it's all over for now. While V and I were eating lunch, I watched the city government people load up the dead tree limbs and other debris and haul it away. Now, when I look out my front window, I see a lawn and an actual house! I don't know how long it'll be kept that way, and I have a feeling we haven't heard the end of it all. It makes for some nice drama in an otherwise quiet neighborhood!

2 comments:

Miss P and Baby E's Mama said...

that is crazy! i wish you had a picture to send me....

Amanda C. said...

Unfortunately, I don't have any before pictures. I do have a couple of "clean up" pictures that I sent on to our realtor along with an e-mail about what had happened. She had to work and couldn't be there personally to support the goings-on. I don't plan on posting any pics of the event to keep everyone as anonymous as possible. You're right, though. The whole thing was pretty crazy! And, like I said, it may not be over yet, especially if he decides to let everything grow back.