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City Council Votes To Ban Synthetic Turf & Artificial Grass

MURPHY (CBS 11 NEWS) - The City of Murphy set new rules about landscaping, banning homeowners from installing synthetic turf and artificial grass in areas visible from the street.

The decision to ban artificial turf was unanimous, but the council voted 5 to 2 to approve an amendment that would allow homeowners who had artificial turf prior to August 1, 2014 to be grandfathered in.

Murphy is one of several North Texas cities under Stage 3 watering restrictions, due to the drought.

The synthetic grass debate centered on a home where one couple installed artificial turf without consulting with their homeowners' association. Pat and Richard Haddock moved to North Texas from California, where dry conditions and a deep drought make synthetic grass more common.

The retired couple invested $15,000 in a synthetic green lawn. The Haddocks say they've had artificial turf while living in other states in the past, and were unaware that it could be an issue for their current HOA.

The couple made their case before the council, which put the issue on the agenda for a vote Tuesday night.

Murphy Mayor Eric Barna supported the amendment, saying that the city code as it stood did not differentiate between synthetic turf in the front yard or back. Had the council not grandfathered in the Haddocks, Mayor Barna said any homeowner who had artificial turf in the back yard, including a putting green or basketball court, could be forced to remove it.

While some residents disapproved of the decision, other neighbors on the Haddock's street say they are not bothered by the synthetic grass outside their windows. Susan Kos lives two doors down and says she and her husband looked into putting down synthetic at one time, but decided they did not have enough information to move forward.

"The challenges we're facing with watering restrictions are not going to go away. We all have criteria that we have to follow as a community," said Kos.

Michael Grant, with Synthetic Greenscapes, installed the Haddock's lawn. He says business is booming because of the drought. Grant thinks many people are not aware of the advancements in synthetic turf, in terms of durability and aesthetics.

"They would save so much on water, landscaping maintenance, and all the things that go along with having natural sod in your yard," Grant said.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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