Taxed cut

·3 min read

Chatham resident Paul Bowman is a man who prides himself on paying his bills.

But he recently received one from the municipality for $369.06 that he has no intention of paying.

Sent out by the tax department July 27, the bill is for grass cutting on a vacant lot off Detroit Drive that Bowman and his wife, Lynn, own, along with six other residents.

He said attempts to resolve the issue have gone unanswered and he's frustrated.

"I'm confused," Bowman told The Voice last week. "The municipality is dragging their heels on this."

The Union Gas retiree, who has lived on the street since 2007, has been sharing the grass-cutting duties on the 70-foot-by-200-foot lot with neighbour Ross Moore for the past 15 years.

The lot is part of a vacant area located in the Mud Creek floodplain. Bowman said he's been told there are at least four other lots located in the empty green space that he believes are owned by the adjacent Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

The lot, that's jointly owned by the Detroit Drive residents, used to house a communal septic system that serviced the homes, but Bowman said the system was no longer used after residents hooked up to sanitary sewers in 2012.

Ryan Brown, director of CK Public Works – the department that oversees long grass bylaw enforcement – said Friday he wasn't aware of the issue on Detroit Drive.

Brown explained that under the Municipal Freedom of Information Protection and Privacy Act he's not allowed to know the identities of property owners as they relate to bylaw issues.

But he said his department is willing to look at the Detroit Drive case.

"If the owner contacts me, I'll review if the process was followed," Brown said, adding that if there's is a discrepancy the owner can appeal the decision.

"If a mistake is made, we'll try to correct it and if not, it can go to the appeal process," he said.

The grass trouble started earlier this year when the municipal grass cutting got behind because of contractor issues. The municipality was forced to put out requests for proposals and bring on new contractors.

In the meantime, the spring grass grew like wildlife, leading to unsightly areas that prompted a slew of complaints to the municipality. Many Chatham-Kent residents were especially angry that grass was out of control in local cemeteries.

According to Bowman, the grass in the vacant lots adjacent to the Detroit Drive homeowner's lot was about two-and-a-half feet high.

But the lot he helps cut was kept trimmed throughout.

That's why he can't understand why he's getting a bill.

"We have someone who saw that the municipality's contractor did not do anything to our lot," Bowman added. "They didn't even go on it (the lot)."

Bowman said he and his neighbours hope the issue can be settled.

"We own the property and we take care of it ourselves," Bowman added. "We shouldn't be getting a bill."

South Kent Coun. Anthony Ceccacci said he had second-hand information about the Detroit Drive grass cutting and he's willing to help if the affected property owner reaches out to him.

Pam Wright, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chatham Voice