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Sunday Poll: Monarch Butterfly Gardens In Residential Neighborhoods Are…

September 4, 2016 Environment, Featured, Sunday Poll 7 Comments
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Recently a butterfly garden in the inner-ring suburb of Maplewood has been in the news:

Alice Helzer has lived in her historic Maplewood home for more than 35 years and for several years has decided to let the plants in her garden grow. She enjoys growing milkweed because it is a natural habitat for the monarch butterfly.

The City of Maplewood has determined that the plants are weeds and says Helzer is in violation of an ordinance that reads in part: The owner, lessee, renter, head of a household or person having control of any lot or tract of land, or any part thereof, shall not allow or maintain on any such lot or tract of land or any part thereof any growth of grass or weeds to a height of 12 inches or over. (KMOV)

I’ve seen her garden and have my opinions, but first I want to know what you think.

Like always, today’s poll is open until 8pm. The answers are in a random order, you’re free to supply your own.

— Steve Patterson


Currently there are "7 comments" on this Article:

  1. JZ71 says:

    Ahh, semantics – substitute “a bunch of weeds” for “monarch butterfly gardens”, rerun the poll and compare the results . . .

    As with many things, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It doesn’t matter if it’s yard maintenance, graffiti, “classic” cars, architecture or how a person chooses to dress or modify their body, the government walks a very fine line when it attempts to define “acceptable” standards, much less apply and/or enforce them!

    • Mark-AL says:

      I really don’t think the difficulties associated with “enforcement” should be a deciding factor in this debate. Maplewood enforces other restrictions and regulations: life-safety code violations, exterior storage, occupancy limitations, tax payments, etc. The city owns lawnmowers and employs personnel to blitz an offending resident’s property of vegetational growth, open storage,etc, when necessary. Liens can be placed on properties without much difficulty for reimbursement. Enforcement of speeding laws is costly and time-consuming. But they’re necessary in order to maintain community standards–standards that residents agreed to when they moved in.

      I’m a believer in specifications. And contracts enforce those specifications, so they’re equally important. If we allow arbitrary substitutions and selective compliance, we are negligent. Rules shouldn’t change in the middle of a ballgame. If we want to change the rules in baseball, for example, there’s a process for that to happen….and it has happened. The ninth inning of the game is not the time or the place. In the Maplewood issue, let’s forget aesthetics, because it can be argued that we’re on shaky ground when we do that. I’ve lived in neighborhoods where the covenants restricted the color of a house, even the color of a front door, yet the covenants were silent on the use of chain link fencing and corrugated steel panels on the building facade on a neighbor’s home. I lived with it. The chain link fence and steel panels didn’t affect the life-safety of my children when they played in their yard. Snakes, opposums and yard rats are not fun to live around, and I’m a rural guy.

  2. Mark-AL says:

    The intent of the law is clear. When it was written, Maplewood’s legislators wanted reasonably manicured lawns. Unfortunately, they used the term “weed” vs “all growth over x inches’ Manicured lawns do not attract snakes and other forms of wildlife that are common in rural areas. Abiding, nearby residents should not be forced to deal with those critters; otherwise, their personal rights are being involuntarily surrendered. The laws were on the books when offending residents purchased their homes. Buyer beware. Weeds and vegetational growth threaten to impact the quality of every other resident on the block! Offending residents should either abide by the laws and respect their neighbors, or move elsewhere. To allow Maplewood’s lawns to overgrow is as much an injustice to nearby, abiding residents as forcing rural residents to begin manicuring their property to remove their rural growth over x inches just to appease a city slicker who might have moved to the rural area by mistake, woke up one morning and decided he suddenly doesn’t like all the vegetational growth in his area. This is no different than downtown residents complaining about the homeless in downtown STL. It’s no different than moving downtown and complaining about the bar traffic and pedestrian activity after the 3 AM closing. It’s like moving to the Fairfax area or to Agoura Hills in Los Angeles and having an issue with Jews, and the peculiar living habits of Jews.

  3. Tom of the Missouri says:

    Municipal busy body officials have way too much power. General rule: The lesser the status of the official and the smaller the community, the more tyrannical is the official. Municipalities should worry about fire risks and crime and leave othewise leave law abiding people minding their own business alone. Social issues like how people’s homes look will generally take care of themselves from natural social pressure. When it doesn’t that is the cost we pay for freedom. There are also solutions like neighbors simply asking or increasing social pressure or in worst case scenario make them a buyout offer they cannot refuse or sell and move. Most cities, with the urging of their short sighted, modern conformist and informant citizens, resort instead to ever increasing bureaucratic tyranny of every little issue, complete with warrants, jail time and expensive fines for non-compliance. Yes, most encourage non disclosed informants just like working with the Stasi in the former communist East Berlin. What a great way to love your neighbors. I was once a landlord in U-city with many buildings, one that took great care of his buildings and landscaping and did so by choice, not coercion, btw, but it was still like living in East Berlin. In that proudly half white utopian diversity loving community, it was also strange that every month in housing court the defendant seats were always filled with about 95% African American defendants with a sprinkling of mostly, but not all, white landlords. .The defendants were almost all home owners, too. I hear once in awhile about the legal doctrine of “disparate impact”, but for some reason the Justice Department or city officials and politicians were not interested in the long time normal procedures in University City. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disparate_impact

    • Mark-AL says:

      1)Open storage can result in fire damage to a home. So you’re right: municipalities should prohibit conditions that might start a fire, open storage for example.
      2) “….how people’s homes look” might refer to house color or shutter style or windows with muntins or windows without muntins, among other things. These issues are no one’s business but the homeowner’s………………………unless the homeowner signed up for membership in a housing conservation/homeowners’ association at the time of his house purchase. If so, then the terms of his agreement with either the neighborhood association or with the municipality, or both, should be binding. If the municipality fails to enforce housing restrictions, should or could they also be forced to ignore collecting taxes? Neighborhood associations are on shakier ground and they often end up 1 teat short of the litter when it comes to enforcing their covenants….which may have more to do with a liberal agenda prevalent today in society than with maintaining a good sense of good order in our communities. 3) A buyout, for extreme cases? Why should a buyout be part of the discussion when code restrictions and maintenance standards are already on the books?????????Who’s going to finance this “buyout”? Neighbors? In many cases, they’re probably living paycheck to paycheck. Should they be forced to limit the food on their family’s tables JUST to offset the effects of weak enforcement among municipal leaders? Sorry, I don’t buy it.

    • Mark-AL says:

      Home sweet home!


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