Town of Coupeville will no longer mow rights of way

Whidbey’s rainy spring is great for keeping lawns lush, but some homeowners who abut Coupeville roads and sidewalks might be wondering why those areas are looking a little unruly.

Town employees have been distributing letters explaining that public works staff won’t maintain these areas for homeowners anymore.

Mayor Molly Hughes said she announced the change in February and April newsletters and on the back of utility bills, but she’s received calls asking why the rights of way aren’t being trimmed yet.

Although it’s been done for years, Hughes said it isn’t in the town’s code to require staff to mow the spaces.

“As the town gets busier and demands for staff time increase, it’s just not a good use of taxpayer money to pay three public works employees to do nothing but mow and trim for four months or more,” Hughes said in an email.

In researching the topic, Hughes said town staff members couldn’t find another municipality in the state that does this.

When mowing occurs, public works staff don’t have time for projects such as planting, painting, power washing or facility maintenance until the end of mowing season, she said.

Property owners will now be expected to maintain the rights of way adjacent to their properties, which can include stormwater ditches, driveway culverts, driveway entrances and lawns.

Town code states that grass and weeds cannot exceed one foot in height and the stormwater code requires property owners be responsible for maintenance of drainage systems such as stormwater swales and ditches.

“This was a hard decision,” Hughes said, “but we felt the time had come to make better use of our staff time.”

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