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Clearwater code enforcement board upset about fake grass

Sick of pulling weeds, Carol Korotkow paid $3,300 a year ago to install 500 square feet of artificial grass in part of her yard.

JIM DAMASKE | Times

Sick of pulling weeds, Carol Korotkow paid $3,300 a year ago to install 500 square feet of artificial grass in part of her yard.

CLEARWATER — Three weeks after city leaders dropped their fight against plastic-grass crusader Carol Korotkow, one group is upset she got away so easily: the city's Code Enforcement Board.

The all-volunteer board had voted this summer to fine Korotkow $100 a day if she didn't rip up the waterless artificial turf in her front lawn.

But after months of meetings, the City Council, which appoints code board members, voted to drop the case. They decided to let Korotkow keep the turf and potentially revisit the city's landscape code next year.

Told of the council's ruling at a meeting Wednesday, code enforcement board members said they were "troubled" and "extremely disappointed" by the decision.

"There's a violation out there, and you're going to ignore it," board member Sheila Cole asked city planning director Michael Delk. "How can you do that?"

Though Clearwater officials have long suggested the city enforce the turf ban, they said Wednesday that the City Council had the right to take no action — and the final say.

"This is a terrible precedent," said member Mike Riordon. "The City Council dropped the ball."

However, the council was never excited about the idea of cracking down on fake grass. In fact, council members asked city staffers in July to brainstorm about an artificial-turf law that would allow anyone in Clearwater to install fake grass, as long as it met certain standards.

But earlier this month, when the council got a look at the proposed ordinance, they called it an "administrative nightmare." They questioned how the turf would drain, what it would be made of, and how homeowners would deal with utility companies digging through the expensive turf. They punted the subject into next year.

Korotkow, a traveling nurse, paid $3,300 last year to install 500 square feet of fake grass in a quarter of her yard off Druid Road, saving her from watering and the rigor of pulling weeds.

Clearwater code enforcement board upset about fake grass 12/21/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 21, 2011 7:14pm]
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