Do you need a permit for that?

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Now that the sun is shining, ‘tis the season for some yard work.

Before putting up that new shed, or constructing that new gazebo, Columbus Public Works Superintendent Dennis Holten wants those living within city limits to take into account the city’s ordinances and policies.


A permit is necessary for the addition of new buildings and structures on properties within city limits. According to Holten, included are buildings, sheds, balconies, canopies, decks, gazebos, chimneys, and carports.

The city recently lowered the cost for the permits, and Holten said costs range from about $10 to $20 if no special processes are necessary. The permitting process can begin with a call to Holten at 322-4424.

The permits are necessary for a variety of reasons, including to ensure that neighbors are not crowded and to maintain a specific distance between buildings and structures and the property line. As Holten describes, “The city wants orderly growth.”


The City of Columbus has an ordinance requiring that people tend to “hazardous vegetation and nuisance weeds” growing on their property. Not only does this ordinance apply to front and back lawns, but property owners are responsible for taking care of the weeds growing from their property halfway into “any road, street, alley or right-of-way abutting the owner’s property.”

Hazardous vegetation and nuisance weeds are those growing in excess of eight inches. The ordinance requires those weeds to be cut down to at least four inches.

The city will issue a warning to those property owners deemed to be breaking the ordinance. If the property owner does not take care of the weeds within a week, the city may cut the problem weeds. As a last resort, the city can impose fines for repeatedly not following the ordinance.

Holten explained the ordinance is in place because tall grass and weeds can pose a fire hazard, as well as create problems for garbage trucks in alleys.


In the coming weeks, Holten will be driving around Columbus, taking note of properties that are not maintained in accordance with city policies. Essentially, Holten says he will be looking for “things that need to be cleaned up,” including tall weeds and items stored in alleys. He will also be noting any new structures.

Holten does not enjoy this part of his job, but he says enforcing the city’s ordinances is important, and at Monday’s city council meeting, council members agreed, saying that nuisance weeds and unlawfully parked items are problems around town that must be addressed.