Warm weather, as it so often does, came fairly suddenly this year. A month ago, the morning temperatures were still cold. Only the bulb plants were blooming. As soon as the nights heated up a little 2 weeks ago, boom, the grass sprouted up 6 inches practically overnight. The dandelions, ground ivy and other wildflowers all bloomed within a few days. This happens every year; no one should be surprised by it.
That was in mid-May, early in the week. It was also fairly predictable that most of Norristown would mow their lawns the next weekend. This is reasonable--a lot of residents don't get home from work until it's nearly dark, and after a tiring day at work, who has the energy to mow anyway? The homeowners who didn't mow that weekend were mostly landlords who don't visit their properties and had no clue the grass was getting long, and owners who NEVER mow, and seem to never get cited for it.
However, on at least one block on W. Freedley ALL the houses got citations that week. It was as if one of the code enforcers, noticing the longer grass, decided to take advantage of the opportunity to write up citations, without giving any of the homeowners a reasonable amount of time (that is, the weekend) to mow. Frankly, if all the houses on a block are cited, especially if those houses, like the ones on W. Freedley, are normally neatly kept, the problem is with the enforcer, not the homeowners.
One homeowner on W. Freedley said that their lawn had been mowed, but the dandelions had sprouted up after and she received a citation. Dandelions aren't noxious weeds. Quite a few people in town use them as a food source. They're also one of the first food plants in spring for honeybees. I could see citing someone who has a mess of dandelions growing out of their sidewalk (not for noxious weeds, but for unkempt property), but in a lawn, code enforcement needs to lay off if the lawn is kept mowed. That goes for other wildflowers, too. I have several on my property that I grow intentionally, like the patch of spearmint next to my back fence. If flowers like buttercups or yarrow or whatever bloom in someone's lawn and the owner chooses to mow around them until the flowers die, I don't see a problem with it as long as the grass is cut.
If you get a citation you don't think you deserve, take a photo of the spot that's supposed to be offensive, maybe using a ruler to show the height of your grass or whatever, and email it to JJanuzelli@norristown.org with your explanation. But you can also help him out but taking photos of overgrown properties and email them to him with the addresses.
If you've got an elderly or disabled person in your neighborhood who can't seem to keep up with their lawns and weeds, give them a hand if you're physically able to do so. Most of us have small lots and it wouldn't take too long to run your mower over your neighbor's lawn or pull a few weeds out of their sidewalk. Here's a tip: on a hot, sunny day, pour a little vinegar on your sidewalk weeds. The heat of the sun on the vinegar should kill most of them. If not, try reapplying it for a few days.
I think if both the homeowners and Codes Department stay reasonable where property care is concerned, and keep the channels of communication open, citations can be avoided, except to those folks who truly deserve them.