Property Rights Vs. Environmental Protection In DeKalb's Battle Over 'Weeds'

Jul 7, 2017

One man’s prairie is another man’s patch of weeds. That’s the debate that is unfolding in DeKalb over a proposed rewrite of the city’s “weeds ordinance.”

About 20 people spoke out about native plants, property rights, and good neighbors at Thursday’s hearing of DeKalb’s Citizens Environmental Commission.

Ron Cress of DeKalb speaks to the City of DeKalb Citizens Environmental Commission.

Paul Soderholm of Mt. Morris spoke about his own nature preserve in neighboring Ogle County and the benefits of native plants. He said they “support native insects, support native birds.”

Patrick Delaney of DeKalb was not as enamored with natural landscaping as others who spoke. He said his neighbor has committed a number of violations of city codes, and he feels it’s affecting his property value. “We want a plan,” he said, “we want it to be regulated, and we want people to approach this as neighbors.”

The commission is revisiting the city’s codes that require “weeds” to be kept under eight inches in height. Ron Cress’s native prairie plantings in his DeKalb yard are considered weeds, and he has been ordered to cut them back or pay fines.

Commission chair Dan Kenney says there will be a number of public meetings on the topic before they develop recommendations to take to city council. He urges the public to participate.

The commission’s next meeting is August 10. Members serve the city council in an advisory-only role.  

WNIJ's Dana Vollmer contributed to this report.