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Awarded by City of Chicago for Natural Garden, Resident Is Also Cited by City for Weeds, Fined $640

Posted Jan 2, 2013 5:58 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Kathy Cummings went to considerable trouble to create a lovely natural garden in the front yard of her Chicago home, as the city recognized in 2004 when then-Mayor Richard Daley awarded her a first-prize plaque in a citywide naturalized landscapes contest.

However, a city code inspector didn't see the yard the same way, the Chicago Tribune reports on its Problem Solver page.

He cited Cummings for having "weeds" over 10 inches in her yard and an administrative hearing officer fined her $640 on Nov. 29. Appealing the fine would have cost Cummings another $317, so she took her case to the local newspaper, which has had some success in persuading businesses and government entities to see the story the same way as the little guy in a dispute.

Unfortunately for Cummings, this wasn't one of those instances. Contacted by the Trib, a city representative expressed sympathy but said the administrative ruling has to be respected and pointed out that Cummings can appeal it.

"It doesn't surprise me, but it's very disappointing," said Cummings, noting that her experience could discourage others from planning natural landscapes that are better for the environment.

She hasn't decided whether she will appeal, the newspaper says.

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