MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

September 15, 2013

Homeowners should heed ordinance


— Homeowners should take more responsibility in keeping lawn debris from reaching stormwater drains.

City officials say the problem has grown worse since an ordinance was passed in 2009 designed to keep the debris from clogging drains and curb pollutants that enter streams, rivers and lakes.

Notices are issued to first-time offenders.

Residents who continue to leave grass clippings and other yard wastes along streets receive citations that make them subject to fines of up to $1,000 per day for each violation.

“You could make bales of hay out of the grass that is being left in the streets after people mow their yards,” said Francie Martin, the city’s assistant stormwater compliance officer.

Martin also volunteers with A More Beautiful Muskogee Inc. and is a member of an Action in Muskogee committee tasked with finding ways to clean up the town.

“We are trying to clean up the town, but it just seems we have a lot of people who don’t know about the ordinance or just don’t care.”

That right there’s your problem, bud.

Ignorance of the law is no excuse. And complacency  makes everyone in the city suffer at some point.

Flooding is a problem for everyone living or visiting here.

Some of that flooding problem is being relieved by the city of Muskogee’s efforts to build detention ponds.

But a portion of the problem comes from neighbors who don’t bother to clean up their yards well enough.

The city could step up its education program highlighting the ordinance and the problems the yard debris can cause others.

But in the end, it is up to residents to do the right thing.