Residents ‘unhappy’ with JEA’s installation of dead grass during septic tank phase-out program

The News4JAX I-TEAM looked into concerns over the city of Jacksonville and JEA’s septic tank phase-out program in several neighborhoods. As the project nears completion, one family is unhappy about the way their yard looks after the construction.

RELATED: I-TEAM: Jacksonville to give more money for septic tank phase out program

Honey Holzendorf said she and neighbors along Ribault Scenic Drive are unhappy with the installation of Bahia grass, which they said is dead compared to the rest of their yard.

“Like what the [expletive] is this really,” Holzendorf said in her initial reaction when she came home to see the grass.

A JEA contractor laid the grass down in her front yard and others last week after JEA and the City of Jacksonville dug up the ground to connect roughly 480 houses in the Beverly Hills neighborhood to city sewer services.

Holzendorf says she had St. Augustine grass before the construction and doesn’t believe the Bahia grass will ever turn green.

“If it does [root] it will be a miracle, it wasn’t even on pallets it was on a roll,” Holzendorf said.

Her neighbors voiced similar concerns.

“I’m like ‘why in the name of god would they lay dead grass like this, this looks awful,’” a neighbor said.

A spokesperson for JEA told the I-TEAM, that Holzendorf’s grass before construction was not St. Augustine grass, but instead a mixture of several species. It’s why they said contractors chose Bahia grass, which JEA officials said is standard in Jacksonville. JEA told News4JAX they are going to comply with the homeowner’s request and wrote this in response:

In terms of restoring grass, JEA puts back what was most prevalent in the customer’s yard previously and what will grow best without irrigation. The customers on Ribault Scenic Drive reached out to our contractor on 1/17/24 about their grass-type request. At that time, the contractor agreed to install St. Augustine grass as requested.

JEA Spokesperson

The Holzendorfs tell the I-TEAM the contractor agreed to lay down St. Augustine grass, after seeing a News4JAX vehicle in the neighborhood.

To give perspective on the progress of the program: the areas in blue on the Northwest side of Jacksonville are neighborhoods where the septic tank project is complete, or nearly complete.

The neighborhoods in yellow are next to have their septic tanks replaced. Though it may be years down the line, they include parts of the Westside near the Ortega River, the Southside near Emerson, St. Nicholas, and along Julington Creek.

As far as the grass in the Beverly Hills neighborhood – a spokesperson for JEA said they will be replacing the Bahia grass in the neighborhood soon, but want the homeowners to know, they are waiting for ideal weather conditions to ensure the sod thrives.

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