Athens City Council Talks Trash – Residents Not Happy

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Athens City Council members were met with citizen disapproval during the City Council meeting on Monday night. 

After the second reading for the ordinance proposing a change in storing garbage cans, two Athens citizens confronted the City Council about wording in the proposal.

This ordinance is an effort to beautify the city of Athens. If approved, citizens would have to keep all trash bins out of street view. This would mean keeping them behind the house or even building a small screen to hide the receptacle if the house is on a corner lot. If a trashcan were left in street view on a day that is not trash collection day, the owner would also be subject to larger fines.

Council Member Chris Fahl introduced the ordinance. In the past week, she said she had been working with Council Member Michele Papai and the Law Director’s Office on strengthening the definitions in the ordinance, specifically for houses that face allies or are on corner lots.

After the reading, Beverly Flanigan and Myrdith Sherow both voiced concerns about waivers mentioned in the ordinance amendment.

The waivers mentioned are written applications given to the Service Safety Director. The director then determines if the applicant will be subject to the standards of the trash ordinance. The City Council said people with disabilities or other circumstances would have to write and submit this application in order to be an exception to the new rule.

Flanigan says the director’s decisions would be “far too arbitrary.” Both suggested the creation of a citizen’s committee to approve the waivers instead of placing them in the hands of the Service Safety Director.

The committee would possibly have five members from both City Council and regular citizens, like landlords and tenants.

Flanigan then called out Mayor Paul Wiehl. She mentioned the mayor had found a committee called the Housing Board that existed in Athens history.

Council Member Fahl argued that a citizen board would take too much time to organize and approve waivers. By applying waivers directly to the Service Safety Director there would be more “flexibility. She also said a committee could be arranged if a strong variety of waivers flooded the office.

Flanigan said a committee with citizen members is necessary to keep all records open to the public and increase government transparency.

The City Council also prepared for the holiday season with first readings of ordinances concerning Halloween vendors and Christmas parking.