City Discusses Changes To Litter, Garbage Laws

By
Sara Brumfield - Athens Messenger staff reporter

Dateline
Updated Thu, Aug 28, 2014 2:38 pm

There could be changes on the horizon for the portions of Athens City Code pertaining to trash and litter. Possible legislation on the topics was discussed Wednesday by members of Athens City Council and the Safety Services Committee.

During the meeting with Athens Service-Safety Director Paula Horan Moseley, solutions to unsightly litter and trash cans were a major point of discussion. To try to curb the problem of litter, a higher fine structure has been proposed, with the initial fine increasing from $20 to $50. Additional offenses (within one Ohio University academic year) would cost $75 for the second offense, $100 for the third, $125 for the fourth offense and $150 for the fifth and subsequent violations. Currently the maximum fine for multiple offenses is $100 per violation.

Councilman Steve Patterson stated that the fine structure for garbage violations hasn’t been altered since 2008. Councilwoman Chris Fahl said the fines should also be given for overflowing dumpsters. She said that residents — particularly renters — need to be made aware that they can be fined for litter or inappropriately stored garbage and trashcans. She said that some residents believe that if they pay the fine then they aren’t responsible for cleaning up the litter, but that’s not the case.

Under the new proposed fine structure, a property could be fined up to $350 in a five-day period if the problem isn’t corrected. Fines would continue until the problem is resolved.

A group of residents have encouraged the city to remove language from the city code that states that trash cans must be located behind the front plane of a home. Instead, they suggest that the language be changed to “out of view.”

Resident Beverly Flanigan said that some trash receptacles that are placed behind the front plane of a house are simply moved to the side of a house and are still visible from the front of homes. However, there was discussion of a possible exemption or appeal process for those who don’t have a location out of sight to store their trash cans or for the elderly or others that can’t easily hide their trash cans.

Patterson said there is also a lot of support in the city to move toward uniform trash cans with lids to keep the city looking tidy. He also talked about the possibility of starting a cigarette butt recycling campaign in the city.

With Ohio University working to become a tobacco-free campus by the 2015-16 academic year, there is concern that there will be an increase of smokers — and likely cigarette butts — on the outskirts of campus on the city right-of-ways. Patterson said he’d like to see the Athens Uptown Business Association (or another nonprofit group) apply for a grant through the Athens Foundation to begin such a program, which would place butt recycling containers on lamp posts along Court Street and other areas. He said he also spoke to Passion Works Studio Coordinator Wayne Savage about having the agency’s artists decorate the boxes.

Some Council members said they weren’t aware that cigarette filters could be recycled. Patterson said that a facility in Groveport — InnovaGreen Systems — recycles the butts into plastic for a variety of uses, such as shipping palettes.

Athens City Council as a whole will meet on Tuesday at 7 p.m. in council chambers.

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