Northport neighborhood in battle over homeowner’s lawn choice

One homeowner’s ecological oasis is another’s snake-spawning eyesore.

That’s the fight playing out within Northport’s Fairfax Village, a cozy neighborhood of townhomes located near the intersection of Watermelon Road and McFarland Boulevard.

Several residents in the area say they’re worried about property values and safety after a neighbor said goodbye to a grass lawn and installed a garden in her front yard.

“At first we thought it was a great idea because it looked like it was going to be amazing,” said resident Stephanie Liddy. “However, it got overgrown really fast and I could tell she was not going to keep it maintained.”

Liddy, who lives two homes down from the yard in question, said the result has been a major eyesore. When Liddy had a chat with the homeowner about it, she said she was told everything in the garden would be edible, but she’s concerned over what she says is a lack of maintenance.

“It’s making our property value go down,” Liddy said. “I have killed seven snakes in our backyard just this year, and last year I had rats the size of my forearm.”

The homeowner, meanwhile, said she’s gotten at least two letters from the city of Northport about her yard, but was told she’s not doing anything against city laws.

She said her yard is a permaculture garden and is designed to create a permanent, self-sustaining ecosystem featuring plants that are native to Alabama.

But neighbor Landon Wilson, whose property abuts the yard in question, said that when she first moved into her home she couldn’t see past the fence in her backyard because of the overgrowth.

“It’s just a hazard risk, basically,” Wilson said. “In my opinion for myself, my dogs, anyone’s children who are back here playing it creates a lot of issues as far as snakes, bugs, rodents you name it.”

The home sits in District 3, and Northport City Council Member John Hinton said he’ll soon be visiting the home for himself to see what steps the city could consider.

According to Northport’s Code of Ordinances, Section 42-261, which governs “unlawful growth of vegetation”:

  • In order to keep premises and vacant lots within the city free of any growth of weeds or grass or downed trees and/or limbs favorable to the harboring of mosquitoes or other insects of like kind and/or rodents or reptiles, it shall be unlawful for any person owning, residing or having charge or control of any premises or vacant lot within the city to allow weeds, grass or kudzu to grow to the height in excess of 12 inches or to allow any other vegetation, including, but not limited to, grasses or weeds, kudzu, vines, cane, bamboo or underbrush to become overgrown or to allow downed trees and/or limbs to remain to such an extent that the same may create favorable conditions to the harboring of mosquitoes or other insects of like kind and/or rodents or reptiles or otherwise constitutes a public nuisance or a danger to the public health, safety and welfare.

It’s up to the city to decide whether or not the yard is adhering to or breaking this rule.

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