PINE LAWN, Mo. – An entire city block of houses in Pine Lawn was reportedly cited for tall grass and chipped paint. The same notice appeared on the doors of homes, whether they were in good condition or abandoned and burned.
The grass at one home is apparently too long, according to the city of Pine Lawn, even though it sits in the shadow of a home that’s been reportedly ignored for years.
Anita Brown is one of many with violation stickers on Manola Avenue.
“It’s the whole neighborhood has green stickers on their door,” she said. “That is crazy!”
Brown was cited for tall grass and chipped paint. The grass appeared to be overgrown by a few days and we could only find one small section on the side of her home with a few chips in the painted concrete.
The same violation notice appears on her neighbor’s home across the street.
“That’s not a problem to me,” she said. “It looks really nice. I wish I could have plants.”
Katrina Griffin added, “Any little, small thing, they’ll put a sticker on it.”
Griffin is the daughter of the homeowner, who lives across from Brown. She said her mother “…has a garden out here and everything, like she takes care of her home.”
Griffin’s mother also lives next door to a burned-out home, which also has violation stickers that don’t seem to make a difference there.
“You’re targeting our residents, and I’m not cool with that at all,” Alderwoman Regina Gathright said.
Gerald Metts, the president of the Board of Aldermen, pointed to a vacant lot whose grass was taller than the ones mentioned and claimed that Pine Lawn owned it.
“Why am I going to cite my residents when the city stuff is not clean?” Gathright said.
Metts added: “We need to be cutting ours before we go cite somebody about their grass.”
They claim the mayor controls code enforcement. So, we went to city hall for answers.
Pine Lawn Mayor Terry Epps would not come out to talk on camera, but he spoke by phone from his office, with us waiting right outside his door. He said he believes code enforcement is doing the right thing, going block by block to measure grass, look at paint, and write violations.
Regarding Pine Lawn’s empty lot, the mayor immediately sent the city’s private mowing contractor to mow it. Additionally, he agrees that the privately owned burned-out house requires attention. He explained that it’s a long tax delinquency process that’s the responsibility of St. Louis County.
Violation stickers say residents risk being summoned to court and having a lien filed against their property, but the mayor says violators just need to call city hall if they need extra help.
Residents on Manola added that the stickers are not helping and look bad themselves. They can’t even remove them due to orders from the city.
“We just need more help out here. We’re trying our best,” Griffin said.