News Story

Lawn Mowing Double Jeopardy In Roseville? City’s Order Versus State’s

Residents of Macomb community face potential Catch-22 in getting grass cut

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s new stay-at-home order prohibits “in-person work that is not necessary to sustain or protect life.”

But for residents of the city of Roseville, in Macomb County, the local government has decreed (in a Facebook post April 8) that this doesn’t apply to keeping lawns trimmed.

“The City takes the position that failure to maintain lawns is unsafe and unsanitary and constitutes a nuisance under City Ordinances,” according to the post. " ... therefore residents are allowed to mow their lawns OR may allow lawn services to perform this task ..."

The duty to cut can be met by taking the do-it-yourself approach or by hiring a lawn service.

But commercial lawn services may not be willing to place their employees at risk of arrest for violating state work restrictions, or risk their business license. Roseville says it “will not be issuing violations for actions in compliance” of its order, but the Macomb County Sheriff and Michigan State Police may have a different position.

Also, if an elderly Roseville resident hires a teenager to mow the lawn, will the teenager get arrested? And will the city cite residents and business owners who can’t cut their own grass and can’t hire someone else to do it for them?

Roseville Mayor Robert Taylor did not respond to an email seeking clarification. Nor did Whitmer’s media spokesperson.

The Whitmer administration has published a webpage with frequently asked questions about the stay-at-home order. The page says that lawn care services are prohibited “except if the service is necessary to maintain and improve safety, sanitation and essential operations of a residence. ... Therefore, cosmetic and non-emergency maintenance ... to the outdoor areas of a residence and business are not permissible.”

The extended and tightened shutdown order has generated political resistance from legislative leaders. On Thursday, state House Speaker Lee Chatfield issued a statement saying that instead of deciding which jobs are or are not essential, “Gov. Whitmer should be asking what jobs and activities can be done safely.”