Add Garden City to the list of communities declaring lawn care services essential during the state's stay-at-home order.
The city council voted unanimously during its meeting held virtually April 20 to declare lawn care workers as essential businesses, which aims to allow them to work through the state's stay-at-home order that runs through April 30.
"Over the past several weeks, there has been discussion over whether grass-cutting companies should be considered essential. I believe we need to allow the grass in our city to be mowed, as well as other normal services," said Mayor Randy Walker as he introduced the added item to the council's agenda Monday night. "While we have been hesitant to give out code enforcement tickets for high grass in compliance with our grass and weed ordinance, we need to keep the city from being overrun with blight.
"For the sake of the public health and safety, we need clean and well-kept properties in our city that are free from rodents, insects, mosquitoes and debris."
The approval of the ordinance declaring lawn care services as essential appears to run against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's executive order, which declares nonessential businesses shut down to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
In a Q&A on the state's website, there is a question inquiring if landscaping work is considered essential and allowed under the executive order.
"No, except if the service is necessary to maintain and improve the safety, sanitation, and essential operations of a residence," the answer reads. "Therefore, cosmetic and non-emergency maintenance and improvements to the outdoor areas of residences and businesses are not permissible under this order."
Figures released Tuesday by Wayne County show Garden City has had 92 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Eight people from Garden City have died from the virus, according to the county. Across Wayne County (excluding Detroit), there have been 6,389 confirmed cases of the virus and 557 deaths.
Not the first
Garden City isn't the first western Wayne County community to allow landscapers to operate. Plymouth Township Supervisor Kurt Heise recently deemed landscaping work essential under the township's grass & weed ordinance.
Councilman Brian Earle said he supported the move to allow landscapers to operate again, but said he was thankful for city residents helping out other residents who needed assistance working on their lawns as the spring began.
"I do appreciate the citizens who have been going out and cutting grass for the citizens that couldn't," he said. "I think it kind of (epitomizes) what this city is all about. It's great of them to do it. I'm glad to see we're going to allow this to happen."
Walker said while lawn care companies have been deemed essential by the local government, they should still adhere to public safety standards to prevent the potential spread of the coronavirus. That includes keeping 6 feet away from each other at work sites, wearing masks, limiting the number of people traveling together in a vehicle. He said contractors should also limit contact with residents by leaving the bill in the home's mailbox.
"While the country is discussing how to open back up for business because of public health and safety of our residents, I believe we need to allow professional contractors to maintain properties throughout Garden City," Walker said. "Being smart will keep down any new instances of the COVID-19 virus."
Contact reporter David Veselenak at firstname.lastname@example.org or 734-678-6728. Follow him on Twitter @davidveselenak.