If lawn upkeep and property maintenance violates city ordinances, it could be costly for property owners - but if the owner is the federal government, the rules don't necessarily apply.
According to Tahlequah's city ordinances, the owner is responsible for landscaping and lawn maintenance. It is unlawful for owners to allow weeds to grow or stand upon the premises.
Ordinance code 8-103 states the premises include portions of streets, rights of way, parkways, alleys, sidewalks, public utility easements, storm drains and gutters that adjoins property
Weeds must not exceed 12 inches in height; present a hazard to traffic; create a fire hazard for the property; or hinder with the mowing of said weeds.
An employee of the city is allowed to report a violation of that code to the administrative officer, who then may order the property to be cleared of weeds or grass.
"At least 10 days' notice shall be given to the owner of the property by mail at the address shown by the current year's tax rolls in the county treasurer's office before the administrative officer takes action," the city ordinance reads.
The notice will state that the property owner must cut or mow the weeds or grass.
If the demand is not met within 10 days, the code enforcer is granted the right of entry onto the property to complete the work, and a notice of lien is filed with the county clerk.
The property owner is charged for costs owed to the city.
"If the property owner cannot be located within 10 days from the date of mailing by the administrative officer, notice may be given by posting a copy of the notice on the property or by publication in a legal newspaper of general circulation in the city, maintaining an office in the city, one time not less than 10 days prior to any action by the administrative officer," the ordinance states.
Last week, a local resident contacted the Tahlequah Daily Press with concerns about the lawn and landscaping at the U.S. Post Office branch in Tahlequah.
Code enforcement officer Larry Warnock was sent the complaint as well, and he reached out to employees.
Because USPS is a federal building, legally it is exempt from state and local ordinances.
"I asked to speak to the postmaster, but he was on vacation. By the time he returned, the grass had been mowed," said Warnock.
In 2017, the Office of the Inspector General for the USPS stated on its website that post offices nationwide were experiencing poor facility conditions due to budget constraints and priorities interfering with general maintenance. One of those problems was poor landscaping.
The city ordinance says any person, firm or corporation found in violation of the code can be fined up to $200 for the first offense.
Repeat violators can be fined $500, and each day that violation exists can constitute another fine.
A request sent to the USPS and the Tahlequah Post Office for comment had received no response by press time.