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His House Is Worth $125K. Fine Over His Lawn Is $30K

Jim Ficken's grass exceeded 10 inches in length over two months last summer
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted May 13, 2019 1:32 PM CDT
Updated May 18, 2019 3:15 PM CDT
The city says the lawn was more than 10 inches tall.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – When Jim Ficken spoke to the press recently in front of his Dunedin, Florida, home, his lawn was neatly cut. That hasn't always been the case, and that fact has made national news. That's because last year Ficken was fined $500 a day over his grass, which exceeded 10 inches in height, ultimately landing him a fine of $30,000. He didn't pay up, and on Tuesday, Dunedin's Code Enforcement Board moved to foreclose on his home. The 69-year-old filed suit the same day. Inside the story:

  • The initial problem: The grass problem dates back to 2015, when Ficken traveled to South Carolina to help his dying mother. While away, he was cited for the length of his grass. That citation stipulated that he would be classified a repeat offender if he violated city code over the next five years, reports the Tampa Bay Times. According to the city, he did.
  • The summer of 2018: His mother died in 2016, and he spent two weeks in South Carolina in July 2018 settling her estate. The man he hired to care for his lawn died when he was away. Ficken's own mower broke when he tried to use it upon his return. The grass kept growing.

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