A.   Removal: Every owner or occupant of land or, if the land is unoccupied, the owner or resident agent, shall cut down, destroy or eradicate all weeds as defined by the laws of the State and grasses standing or growing upon such lands, in such manner and at such times as may be directed or ordered by a City authorized weed inspector or designee. Any land, with the lesser of thirty percent (30%) or more of its turf grass and weed growth above the height of eight inches (8"), or with an area of two hundred fifty (250) contiguous square feet or greater of weeds or grass exceeding the height of eight inches (8"), or with weeds as defined by the laws of the State, will be considered in violation of this section unless the property is operating under an approved Natural Lawn as described in subsection D of this section. Further, all land must remain debris free, such that it does not become a dumping site for grass clippings, garbage, dirt and any other substances that would directly alter the normal condition of the land and that would make adequate maintenance of said land difficult. Any violation of the aforementioned conditions and following issuance of a citation for said violation, the City may cause the land, including private property and adjoining public boulevard area, to be cleared, cultivated and/or leveled to eradicate the improper condition of the land, with the expense for doing so becoming the responsibility of the landowner.
   B.   Establishment: Owners of property shall establish turf grass lawns or other approved landscaping within (1) one year (365 days) of the date a Final Building Inspection is approved by the City for a property.
   C.   Weed Inspector: A City authorized weed inspector(s) or designee shall examine the lands, highways and public grounds for the purpose of ascertaining if the provisions of this section are being complied with, and if it is found that such is not the case, shall issue a notice in writing on a form to be prescribed by the City Manager to the owner(s) or occupant(s) requiring them to cut down, destroy or eradicate, all noxious weeds which are growing or in danger of going to seed as follows:
      1.   Lots with structures (building or parking) shall have five (5) days for the first violation in a calendar year and twenty-four (24) hours for additional violations within a calendar year.
      2.   Vacant lots shall have ten (10) days.
If the owner is a nonresident of the City, then the occupant shall be deemed to be the owner's agent to receive any such notice.
   D.   Weed Cutting: Whenever any person(s) fails to comply with the notice served upon them, the City authorized weed inspector or designee shall cause the same to be cut down, destroyed, cleared, leveled, cultivated and/or eradicated at the expense of the owner of the property. The expense of maintenance of said land and any related administrative penalty as outlined within the City Fee Schedule shall be billed directly to the landowner. Said notice shall be served by depositing a copy in the Post Office addressed to the owner at the address shown on the Real Estate Tax rolls of the County. If timely payment is not forthcoming from the landowner, the bill shall be assessed against the property as provided by law.
   E.   Natural Lawns:
      1.   Purpose: The City of Moorhead finds the installation and management of Natural Lawns is beneficial to the city's environment and residents and finds Natural Lawns serve to further adopted goals by enhancing stormwater retention, reducing pollution, increasing water quality, improving biodiversity and native habitat for pollinators and wildlife.
      2.   Any owner or occupant of land within the City may have a natural lawn or rain garden, which consists of planned, intentional, and maintained plantings of native or non-native grasses (not including turf grass), wildflowers, forbs, ferns, or shrubs where the grasses and other growth may exceed eight inches (8") in height, provided that such plantings shall be maintained so as not to present hazards to adjoining properties, persons or vehicles traveling on the public ways, structures on such affected land, shall be maintained as to enhance the appearance of the property on which located and other public benefits as described in Section D1.
      3.   Definitions:
A lawn consisting of plantings other than turf-grass lawn (such as wildflowers, native or non-native grasses, forbs, ferns and shrubs).
Annual, biennial and perennial plants which are deemed to be injurious to public health, environment, public roads, crops, livestock and other property as specified by state or local laws, regulations, rules and guidelines. This includes any plant as described in Minnesota Statutes, Section 18.77, Subd. 8.
A stormwater treatment practice consisting of a landscaped depressed area that can accept stormwater runoff from impervious surfaces and allow it to infiltrate into and/or through the soil below as defined by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and/or the Environmental Protection Agency.
A lawn comprised mostly of grasses commonly used in residential lawns, such as Kentucky bluegrass, that forms an even turf when mowed and maintained.
      4.   Compliance Requirements:
         a.   No Natural Lawn may exceed twenty-four inches (24") in height within five feet (5') of a driveway or alleyway, within thirty feet (30') of an intersection or within three feet (3') of a fire hydrant.
         b.   A Natural Lawn must be maintained with no overhang or encroachment onto the sidewalk, curb, street or adjacent property.
         c.   Natural lawns do not include turf-grass lawns left unattended.
         d.   Any Natural Lawn within the City shall be maintained so as to not include unintended vegetation including any noxious or invasive weed or plant.
         e.   Natural lawns and rain gardens shall not be planted within the boulevard or right-of-way without first obtaining a permit.
         f.   Any property owner that plants a Natural Lawn is responsible for requesting utility location and ensuring that no planting area interferes with utilities. Repairs to Natural Lawn areas that are damaged as a result of a utility accessing or performing work within easement areas on a property are the responsibility of the property owner and are not the responsibility of any utility company, subcontractor of a utility company or other entity that has the right to access a utility and/or easement on a property. This section applies to existing utilities and authorized new utility installations.
         g.   Natural lawns may not be planted on a levee or other flood protection infrastructure area or within twenty feet (20') of such flood protection infrastructure unless otherwise approved by the City Engineer.
      5.   The city may order the cutting of a natural lawn at any time when it is determined that the growth does not meet the standards described within this section.
      6.   The city shall have the right to further enforce the terms of this section in the same manner as subsections A, B, C and D of this section upon such notice to the owner or occupant of the property as required by those subsections, with the cost of enforcement of the order contained in said notice to be borne by the owner of the property. (Ord. 2022-22, 10-28-2022)