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St. Peters woman’s case for grass-free yard heads to federal court of appeals

A St. Peters woman with an allergy to grass who landscaped her home’s yard with flowers, bushes and lawn ornaments is slated to have her case appear before a federal appeals court. The case has been going on for about four years, and will now be decided by a three-panel judge.

According to attorney Dave Roland, resident Janice Duffner faces up to about $375,000 in fines, and up to 40 years of prison time, for violating a city of St. Peters ordinance. The ordinance mandates at least half of each yard must contain turf grass.

Due to her allergy, Duffner instead landscaped her yard with rose bushes, shrubs and even a small fountain at her home on Fishers Hill Drive. to cover the yard area without directly planting grass. The city originally lowered the amount of grass required in Duffner’s yard to around five percent, but Duffner stated that any amount of grass in her yard could affect her allergy. Duffner was told to hire someone to take care of the grass. A federal judge sided with the city of St. Peters on the issue last year.

According to KMOX, Roland was reportedly hoping to overturn the ruling on an appeal and create a new precedent regarding homeowners’ property rights and the size of penalties that can be imposed by towns or municipalities for property law violations by residents.

It was also reported that a St. Peters lawyer told the three-judge federal appeals court that residents don’t have a “fundamental property right” and are still subject to “reasonable use regulations.” This includes yard and lawn aesthetics.

If necessary, Duffner and Roland have stated they would take the case to the Supreme Court.

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