A Florida man being fined $300 a day for his unkempt lawn is suing the city of Longwood, claiming the fruits and vegetables he grows -- along with weeds -- is beneficial to the environment.
Neighbors of Sean Law call his lawn an eyesore, but Law told the Orlando Sentinel that his property, which pays tribute to natural farming, is not problematic.
“My motive is to grow life and love,” Law, 32, told the paper. “"It's a moral imperative that we grow food wherever we can, and that is what I am doing.”
But his neighbors don’t see it that way. One neighbor said her cat brought home dead rodents and snakes originating on Law’s property and others say the leafy growths on Law’s lawn is responsible for mosquitoes, moles, ants and bad smells on the block.
“We’re tired of it,” neighbor Kathy Ettman told the Sentinel. “We’ve been dealing with it for two years.”
“It shouldn’t have gone this far,” added neighbor Jeff Walters. “It’s certainly an eyesore. This isn’t the kind of neighborhood where you can let your yard go like that.”
Those complaints led to a $300 per day fine in September 2012 from a Longwood judge who ruled that Law’s lawn constitutes a public nuisance. Law is fighting the judgment, contending it’s actually his neighbors’ grass, which he said is cut too short, that’s the problem.
“We have grown afraid of having life grow around us," he said.
Law filed a notice last week that he intends to appeal the fine to the Florida Supreme Court. He is arguing that his lawn is in accordance with 2009 standards known as “Florida Friendly Landscaping,” which allow homeowners to landscape their lawns in ways that conserve water and protect the environment.
"It's blunt tyranny for a city to stop people from growing their own food," Law said, adding to My Fox Orlando, “the city says I'm violating city code, they can't say that we don't like the way it looks because that's a violation of your first amendment and yard displays upheld it," said Law.
But Longwood officials don’t believe Law has a case.
"He's arguing that doing nothing is Florida Friendly whereas real Florida Friendly Landscaping is manicured bushes, pathways, things to conserve water and attract wildlife while at the same time controlling pests," Longwood Deputy Mayor Joe Durso told My Fox Orlando.