Jun. 14—The Marietta City Council has approved stricter penalties for violations of its ordinances governing noise and grass height.
At its regular meeting this month, six out of seven council members voted to approve the crackdown on noise, while five out of seven members approved the crackdown on tall grass.
Councilman Joseph Goldstein, who had expressed concerns that the new penalties were too harsh, voted against both measures. Councilwoman Cheryl Richardson voted for the noise ordinance change, but voted against the grass height measure.
Councilman M. Carlyle Kent first proposed the noise crackdown in January; the council has debated and tweaked the specifics in the months since. Rusty Roth, the city's development services director, has told the council that the amount of time spent preparing cases for court, only to have cases dismissed or result in a small fine, impedes morale and frustrates inspectors.
The new noise ordinance calls for the first and second violations of the noise ordinance to be punished with a maximum $500 fine and/or 30-day jail sentence. Third or subsequent offenses can be punished with a maximum fine of $1,000 or three months in prison.
Under the previous noise ordinance, jail time was not mentioned, and the first two violations were met with a warning. The third offense carried a minimum fine of $250. Not until the fourth offense did fines reach $500, before rising to $1,000 for fifth and subsequent offenses.
The council made similar revisions to the city's "sanitary conditions" ordinance, which governs how tall residents can let grass grow.
While the maximum grass height of 12 inches remains unchanged, staff are now empowered to move more quickly to enforce it, and impose steeper fines for violations.
The first two violations of the ordinance now carry a fine of up to $500 and/or 30 days in jail. Third or further offenses can result in a fine of up to $1,000 and/or three months in prison.
Previously, penalties started at $50 for the first, second and third offenses, then increased for the fourth and fifth offenses ($100), sixth offense ($200), seventh offense ($300), eighth offense ($400), ninth offense ($500), and tenth or subsequent offenses ($1,000).
If notified that their grass is too tall, property owners now have seven days to avoid a court summons, instead of the old 12-day timeline.
Per Roth, about half of all grass height violations are resolved voluntarily by hanging door hangers at residences which are in violation.
Neither ordinance was discussed in detail at this month's meeting, where they received final approval. Council had given preliminary approval to both ordinances in May.