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Groves: Cut your ditch, help drainage

GROVES — It’s official: High grass at least 12 inches tall in a ditch is an obstruction to drainage.

That’s how Groves city leaders are interpreting Section 22-2 “Obstruction of Drainage” in the city’s code of ordinances.

Drainage has been a hot button issue in the city, especially since Tropical Storm Harvey dumped historic amount of rain on the area late last summer. Some street flooding continues to happen — quickly — during heavy rain that happens in a brief amount of time.

The ordinance states “it shall be unlawful for any person to place dirt, trash, broken concrete, bricks, rubbish, or any other obstruction in any drainage ditch within the city without written permission therefor from the city manager” and the portion “any other obstruction” is now deemed to mean grass higher than 12 inches.

Groves City Manager D. Sosa said during Monday’s meeting that a letter would go out to offending resident first asking them to cut the grass in their ditch. If they do not, then the city will take care of the cutting and bill the resident. That could cost residents anywhere from $35 to $200, Sosa said.

Several citizens took to the podium on the issue, including Irven Walker.

“There’s a corner lot on Terrell and Suncrest that does not cut their grass. I’ve called several times,” Walker said. “Every time there’s a heavy rain we get water in the garage, water in the streets.”

Oscar Proenza brought up an issue he said he had heard from others.

“I’ve talked to a lot of people about the ditch situation and they think it’s not their property, it’s the city’s,” Proenza said. “They think they don’t have to trim it or cut it. A lot of people are thinking it’s an easement and the ditch is city property.”

Sosa said it all goes back to the ordinance and that high grass obstructs drainage.

Mayor Brad Bailey said that many of the properties with high grass in the ditch are rental properties and those properties also have other issues such as leaves, trash and junk cars, as well.

The new interpretation of the ordinance took effect Tuesday.