While one town is threatening to throw homeowners in jail
for not mowing their lawns, another is filing charges against those who do
-- well, if the land being tended to belongs to the city, that is.
The city of Columbus, Ohio, has filed criminal trespassing charges against homeowners who live along three of the city's reservoirs and who have been mowing, weeding and straightening up city-owned waterfront property that abuts their backyards, the Columbus Dispatch
So far, three residents -- one for every reservoir -- have been charged. If convicted, they could face up to 30 days in jail and a $250 fine.
The city said that the reservoirs are used for drinking water, and if its land is not kept natural, it could hinder its ability to filter runoff water before it reaches the reservoirs.
The city claimed that it has sent numerous notices to reservoir-area property owners to stop touching city-owned land but to no avail.
"It's a last resort," Columbus city attorney Sarah Harrell told the Dispatch
of the charges against the property owners.
Jack Graf, a resident who has lived along the O'Shaughnessy Reservoir for nearly 30 years and has been charged with trespassing by the city, said that he was trying to work out an agreement with city officials about the boundary between his land and the city's when the charges were brought against him.
"Their answer is to try to send me to jail for 30 days," Graf told the Dispatch
. "It's a gross abuse of power."
Even more residents could soon face a court battle.
"These are not the first people we've filed suit against, and they probably won't be the last," Columbus Public Utilities Director Greg Davies told the newspaper. "It's not to send a message, it's simply that they're violating the law, and they're using our property as their property."
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