Tall grass fines and cell phone ban could be voted on by South Bend Common Council on Monday

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By: Krystal Vivian kvivian@953mnc.com

Two controversial issues could be voted on by the South Bend Common Council during its meeting on Monday night.

A proposal to increase fines against property owners with tall grass within city limits and a ban on using hand-held electronic devices while driving are on the agenda for the June 22 meeting.

Residents who attend the council’s meeting on Monday might have a chance to weigh in on both measures.

Here’s a look at each proposal.

TALL GRASS FINES 

The ordinance would require property owners to keep grass less than 9 inches high, lest they be fined $350 — 17½ times the current fee of $20 for the first offense.

The fine could increase up to $1,500 for subsequent offenses. Supporters of the bill hope the increased fees would encourage property owners to maintain the grass before lots become overgrown.

A companion resolution encourages the city to employ local youths to mow abandoned lots, a task now handled by the Parks Department.

The issue has been tabled so that more research could be done.

HAND-HELD DEVICES WHILE DRIVING BAN

Under the ban, drivers won’t be able to use cell phones or other hand-held devices while driving in city limits unless it’s an emergency.

The ban wouldn’t apply in emergency situations. Fleet management systems, dispatching devices, CB radios and music players would not be banned. Hands-free devices likes Bluetooth headsets and portable car phone holders would be allowed.

Offenders would receive a $75 fine for the first offense, a $125 for a second offense and $250 for every offense after that. Drivers who get into a crash in a school crossing zone would also be fined $250.

The ban was tabled so that more research could be done, including finding out if police could enforce the ban.

The South Bend Common Council is scheduled to meet at 7 p.m. Monday, June 22, on the fourth floor of the County-City Building, 227 West Jefferson Blvd., South Bend.