There is some subjectivity in what people consider a weed. Some say they're just plants, out of place. Others, unloved flowers.
But there's little room for touchy-feely interpretation in the eyes of President York County Commissioner Steve Chronister.
He actually used the word "disgusting" at a recent public meeting, describing the green and brown stuff that's popping up from state-maintained medians and in cloverleaf exchanges.
There are, of course, myriad serious concerns facing York County. The state budget could have dire consequences for county-provided services, and the economic downturn has pinched funding.
But Chronister is also
taking aim at voluntary vegetation, some of which is 3 or 4 feet tall, and he said his ire is about more than a personal pet peeve.
"It looks just terrible," he said. "We're trying to promote York County as a nice place, a place to visit. It just looks bad."
The weeds are a killjoy for visitors and residents, he said, and they make the county look untidy.
In the past, Chronister has sent cleanup crews from the York County Prison to pull weeds and pick up trash. But he said it took him so long to get permission from the state, he decided to send a letter this year instead.
He drafted a letter to PennDOT District 8, which was copied to Secretary of Transportation Barry Schoch, Gov. Tom Corbett, Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley and the entire York County state legislative delegation.
Chronister acknowledged that governments are faced with "difficult funding decisions" every day, but he feels compelled to express displeasure at the quality of roadway maintenance, "and the lack of attention to basic items such as weed-control, grass mowing, and general debris pick-up."
He said overgrown grass not only looks bad, but it can be a safety hazard for drivers who can't see through it.
State responds: PennDOT District 8 spokesman Greg Penny said the state does respond to complaints, but it's also doing the best it can with the resources available.
Because of budget constraints, the frequency and area of mowing have been reduced, as has other maintenance.
Crews mowed four times a year until gas spiked four or five years, then they limited mowing to three times per year. But the contractors hired by the state, instead of taking the hit on income, raised prices and bid the contracts at a higher rate, Penny said.
The state, as a result, is paying almost the same price as it used to and getting less service.
Spraying for weeds, he said, costs even more than mowing. And while the state does respond to safety concerns and other complaints, York might be asking for too much.
He said crews have already sprayed medians twice this year.
"It sounds like they're asking for a higher level of service, and it's difficult to do under the financial restraints we have," Penny said. "We will review the letter and as necessary maybe meet to more specifically find out what the complaints are, but we are limited in what we can do because of the financial restraints we're under."
-- Reach Christina Kauffman at email@example.com.