Falling behind on your yard work can land you in jail if you live in Lenoir City, Tennessee.
Karen Holloway found that out the hard way when she was sentenced to five days in jail because she and her husband didn’t trim the bushes and mow the lawn.
“I’m embarrassed the place I pay taxes for is taking time to incarcerate me when there are other real criminals in this town,” Holloway told The Tennessean newspaper. Holloway was arrested and cited for failure to maintain property because she and her husband didn’t maintain the yard at the house they’ve owned since 2000.
“It’s not right,” Holloway said. “Why would you put me in jail with child molesters, and people who’ve done real crimes, because I haven’t maintained my yard?”
Singled Out for Living in an Apartment
Holloway was initially sentenced to five days in jail but only served six hours when Judge Terry Vann said the punishment didn’t fight the “crime.” But he said she still needed to serve time.
Lenoir City authorities arrested Holloway because she had ignored several citations.
“I feel like I’m being bullied,” Holloway told TV station WLVT. She and her husband actually live in an apartment and not the house, and they have not had the time or resources to renovate the house, she said.
“With my husband going to school and working full time, me with my job, with one vehicle, we were trying our best,” Holloway said.
Holloway was cited and jailed because the house sits on a main thoroughfare and makes the city look bad to visitors, Lenoir City Public Safety Director Don White told The Tennessean. White said that the city and Holloway have been fighting over the property for 12 to 13 years. One of the citations said the grass was too high. Holloway acknowledged the shrubs and trees needed maintenance.
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Holloway noted that the code enforcement officers had cited her for not maintaining the property while her husband was serving overseas in the military. She was also concerned about the precedent the sentence set.”This opens a floodgate to everybody in Lenoir City being put in jail for silly things,” Holloway said.
Man Jailed for Storing Firewood on Lawn
Holloway is not the only one who has been jailed for not cleaning up a property. James Barth spent five days in the Hennepin County (Minnesota) jail in July for storing firewood and ladders outside his lawn in Orono, Minnesota.
“He shouldn’t be going to jail for ladders and firewood,” Barth’s brother, Jeff Barth, told The Minneapolis Star Tribune. “It’s just outrageous.”
The Barth brothers contend that they are being subjected to a witch hunt by city authorities. James and Jeff Barth share a house in Orono with their brother John. They allege they’re being singled out because they are working class (Jeff is a truck driver) citizens in a town full of expensive lakefront houses. Orono is a suburb of Minneapolis.
City inspectors cited James Barth because his lot was covered with the kind of objects often seen lying around on rural properties. A city inspectors’ report from May 2010 cited the offending items as: “lumber, scrap metals, ladders, tires, rims, metal shelving, garbage bags, 5-gallon buckets, tarps, furniture, utility trailers, miscellaneous construction debris, junk and a Ford L800 Diesel vehicle with expired registration.”
Orono city attorney Soren Mattick said the citation was legitimate.
“Those standards are meant to be community standards,” Mattick said of the zoning ordinance. “This is how we would like to see the community to look.”
What do you think? How much freedom should homeowners have over how their property looks? Leave your reply in the section below: