To cut mowing costs, city mulls selling lots to residents

YOUNGSTOWN -- The city may eventually sell many of the estimated 6,600 abandoned or vacant lots to nearby residents to cut mowing costs, John R. Swierz, D-7th, says.
"It'd be nice if we could give it to the neighbors," Swierz said Wednesday. "That would really reduce problems and costs for the street department."
Mowing is divided between the street department, which mows properties without structures, and the health department. City law prohibits grass or weeds taller than 10 inches.
The street department has seven of its 12 mowers operating and should be at full strength within two weeks, said Calvin Jones, general foreman of the street department.
Handling complaints: The health department will continue handling properties with abandoned buildings and on overgrown lawns about which residents have complained, Jones said. He expects the health department to begin handling complaints within two weeks.
Written complaints are received and investigated by the health department, which then refers them to one of the other departments. Three mowers handle all complaints.
Mowers rotate to a different section of the city daily with complaint areas cut on the next workday. The city may again hire a part-time employee to handle complaints this summer if funds can be allocated.
The first cutting each year will be free. Subsequent cuttings are billed to the owner with a minimum $150 charge.

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