Don’t expect Highland Park council members to change town ordinances to allow synthetic turf in front yards.
After public meetings, a survey, and a petition, council members have concluded that most residents prefer to keep Highland Park natural.
“I think our residents have been pretty clear,” council member John McKnight said.
Town staff and council members have been discussing since June the possibility of removing a 2012 prohibition on artificial turf in front yards and other places visible from town streets, sidewalks, or alleys.
Some residents wanted artificial turf as an option, especially in highly-shaded areas where growing lawns can prove tricky.
Town staff studied a variety of options for regulating what materials could be used and what percentage of a lawn could include fake grass, but public feedback leaned heavily against allowing synthetic turf anywhere neighbors could see it.
Kirk Smith, town development services manager, reported that of 269 residents who provided feedback in January and February, 179 of them – 67 percent – were opposed to allowing the artificial turf.
“I think this is a form of representative government,” McKnight said. The council member said he studied the feedback and found especially persuasive concerns raised about what the fake turf could look like as it ages.
Council member Margo Goodwin, who has expressed all along her disdain for plastic plants, noted that residents who provided input on the town’s Hackberry Creek Master Plan also emphasized the importance of preserving Highland Park’s natural beauty.
“All these people came down on the side of ‘Keep it natural, keep it natural,’” she said.
With the council choosing to not change turf regulations, town officials will begin enforcement action against two properties discovered last year with illegal turf installments.
One is in the 4300 block of Overhill Drive, where a home on large property created by combining two lots is considered to have two front yards. The other is in the 3500 block of Crescent Avenue. Council members asked staff to give property owners 120 days to correct the violations.