Atlanta woman who could’ve faced jail over garden is cleared

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Atlanta woman who could’ve faced jail over garden is cleared

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Lexa King's garden in August 2017.
Lexa King's Candler Park garden in August 2017.

A longtime Candler Park homeowner charged with keeping an overgrown garden was prepared to defend herself and her yard in court Monday. 

Lexa King had been issued an arrest citation in February related to an Atlanta city code that prohibits excessive growth. Court citation penalties allow that violators can face up to 60 days in jail and a $1,000 fine, Channel 2 Action News found in June. 

But days before her scheduled hearing, King received notification the municipal court had dismissed her case. 

King said being summoned over her “criminal azaleas” has been befuddling. She understands the need for cleared walkways and driveways, she said, but doesn’t see the harm in "beautiful bushes” growing under a tree on someone’s property.

“What are we really trying to accomplish here?” she said Tuesday.

The reason for the dismissal of King’s case is unclear. The Atlanta Solicitor’s Office, which screens and prosecutes cases, did not respond to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. 

Whatever the reason, King said she’s glad that this part of the “intimidating” process is over. However, she wants to see more transparency and better training for city code enforcement officers.

The part-time real estate agent worries that other seniors, who may not be in good health or financial standing, could be distraught if they get fined. She said she’d prefer a friendly visit from code enforcement, before being slapped with a fine.

“This chapter is over for me, but I don't consider the whole thing to be put to bed,” King said. “I’m going to follow up.”

City council members are aware of King’s case, according to a spokesman, but they were not available to comment Wednesday. 

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Atlanta City Code Enforcement told Lexa King that her flowers are overgrown.
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