To keep parkways mowed and trimmed, Yorkville council members this week adopted new height limits for vegetation and fines for noncompliant homeowners.
The measure was intended to clarify that it's the responsibility of homeowners to maintain parkways, the area between the curb and private property.
City Administrator Bart Olson said the requirements are common among municipalities.
The city will no longer permit any weeds, grass, plants or vegetable matter, other than trees, bushes, flowers, vegetable gardens or other ornamental plants, to exceed a height of 8 inches. Owners of property heading on to public streets, roads or walkways must keep vegetation to no more than 5 inches.
Ald. Carlo Colosimo was opposed to placing the responsibility on homeowners.
"I've always had issue with the city requiring people to maintain right of ways that they don't own," he said. "How do we justify that? From their boundary line through the right of way, we're amending it so that they have to maintain the right of way. But they don't own it?"
Colosimo emphasized that it's unclear where to draw the line.
"Why don't we require them to shovel the snow on the street in front of their house and then we don't have to plow anymore?" he asked.
City Attorney Kathleen Field Orr tried to explain.
"The street being plowed is for the safety and benefit of the community," she said. "The care of your parkway in front of your home gives you expanded setback."
Ald. Joel Frieders said he understands the concern, noting that the homeowners association in his neighborhood is requiring homeowners to pay for the cost of tree replacement under a planned unit development agreement.
"We both have issues with our respective right of way," Frieders said.
Ald. Chris Funkhouser said the parkway requirements are not unlike city building regulations.
"It's the cross perspective," he said. "It's their property, but we are encoding a rule against their property."
Under the changes, the city can levy a $75 fine, payable within 30 days of a violation notice, for noncompliance. It did not previously have authority to require parkway maintenance.