While Delaware's southern-most county had already outlawed high grass and weeds, Sussex County Council has now taken action to put some teeth into that prohibition.

Grass or weeds that grow higher than 12 inches are in violation of the county's code regarding property maintenance.  At its meeting this week, County Council approved an ordinance that cleans up the language of the code and adds penalties for homeowners who allow grass and weeds to overrun their properties.

The new penalties include a minimum fine of $250 for residents who do not comply with a notice from the county to trim their lawn.  Repeat violators could face fines up to $2,500.  The new ordinance also allows the county to cut the high grass themselves and then bill the property owners.

County leaders say tall grass and weeds are not only a nuisance to neighbors, they can threaten public safety and community health by attracting vermin.  Director of the County's Assessment division Eddy Parker says those properties can also lower the value of homes and have a negative impact on the quality of life.