Homeowner frustrated by overgrown ditch, now surprised by city code

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RICHMOND, Va. –  Sometimes city homeowners face confusion over the appropriation of responsibility when it comes ditches, sidewalks and alleys clear of debris or overgrown vegetation.

Nate Bassett put in a lot of sweat equity to fix up his home on Welford Avenue, and he contacted the CBS 6 Problem Solvers regarding an overgrown ditch he said was “ruining his backyard.”

Bassett had been after the city officials for about seven months, hoping for resolution after a spring and summer full of mosquitos.

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When CBS 6 Problem Solvers visited Bassett, his four-year-old daughter was zooming around outside on her toy, something he said she hasn’t done for month because their yard had been overrun with mosquitoes.

“The weeds were taller than the fence, six-foot,” he said. “Do you know how long it takes overgrowth to grow six feet -- it is very frustrating to me.”

Bassett pointed to an overgrown drainage ditch that he said constantly clogs up after the rain. “We've got a lot of grass…the mosquitoes are unbelievable.”

He believed the overgrown ditch was a city issue and contacted them to send workers out to clear the overgrowth.

The public works director explained to CBS 6 that the drainage ditch is Basset's responsibility.

He pointed out the city code that says:

It shall be a misdemeanor for any person who owns or occupies property within the city to permit any grass, plants, bushes, weeds or any other vegetation 12 inches high or over, other than trees, shrubbery, agricultural plants, garden vegetables, flowers or ornamental plants, to exist on any sidewalk, public right-of-way, or grass strip adjacent to such property or unimproved street or alley (to the centerline of such unimproved street or alley).

Bassett said that he wasn’t aware of the code, being a relatively new homeowner in the area.