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Drought? What drought? Homeowners fined for brown lawns

A homeowners association in Denver has issued hundred of tickets to residents this year for failing to keep up their lawns in the drought.

Tess Vigeland: If you have trouble keeping your lawn green in the summer time, here's an incentive: a $200 dollar ticket. That's what some homeowners in one Denver development are facing for brown patches in their yards. Yes, in the same state that just experienced a rash of massive wildfires.

Colorado Public Radio's Megan Verlee has our story.


Megan Verlee: There's not a lot of green in Colorado this summer. The corn is withering, the pine trees are parched, and in Lori Worthman's yard, whole patches of grass are just refusing to grow.

Lori Worthman: I've put plenty of money into it and now we're throwing water at it. And so when they said, 'You've still got to pay $200, your lawn doesn't look good,' I just thought, you gotta be kidding me.

She's not the only one -- around 500 homeowners in her subdivision got a lawn ticket from the Green Valley Ranch Homeowners Association this summer. But if you think the head of the HOA has no sympathy, you're wrong. Jack Tanner knows it's hard.

Jack Tanner: I mean, in these economic times, it's rough because lawns are not necessarily the cheapest thing in the world to take care of.

But lawn tickets aren't cheap either. Worthman has until next spring to get her grass to grow, but she's got one heavy-hitting ally. The Denver Water utility heard about her ticket and sent out a specialist to help her with the problem.

In Denver, I'm Megan Verlee for Marketplace.

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When I heard this story, I said to myself "I know where this is going." I was sure there was going to be a clever switcheroo and some neighbor with a green lawn was going to be the one who was actually fined for wasting water in a drought, because in this day and age how could anyone be so irresponsible and clueless and ignorant as to demand this kind of obscene misuse of water? No such luck. That your reporting didn't point this out is the sorriest aspect of this distressing story.

This needs to stop. Why am I conserving water????????????????? To the HOA you need to be sued. To the home owners take them to court paint your lawn green This really is BS

I hope the homeowners get together and seek a meeting with the board to seek a new policy on "green" lawns when the weather is clearly not keeping the lawns green. I am surprised the water utility isn't putting a ban on unnecessary water usage such a green lawns. They did that here in Maryland recently. Grass is supposed to go dormant (brown) in hot weather.
Perhaps the homeowners could even get an agreement to allow residents to put in local vegetation rather than grass as well as not requiring watering during long hot spells.
Where is the HOAs sense of compassion? as well as their environmental values?. The homeowners make up the membership of the HOA. They can alter the bylaws with enough solidarity.
What a waste of water! (By the way, I am on our HOAs board and we would never consider such a foolish requirement in the face of weather conditions like theirs.)

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