Trash Ordinance Talks Continue

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Trash will be on the Athens City Council agenda again, since councilmembers decided to amend the trash ordinance instead of adopting it at Monday night’s City Council meeting.

The trash ordinance aimed at beautifying the city by keeping trash receptacles out of street view has received a lot of conflicting emotions from residents. Before the amendment was introduced, the ordinance would have required trash to be out of street view or behind a screen starting January 1.

This week, Councilmember Chris Fahl said that the process of adopting the new trash ordinance has been “educational.” Councilmember Fahl announced an amendment to the ordinance after weeks of suggestions and complaints from residents.

At the last Athens City Council meeting, many residents were frustrated about warnings given to them for having trash containers visible from the street. The residents argued that interpretation of the phrase “out of sight” was too broad for officials to properly enforce.

The first change is an addition that reemphasizes the purpose of the ordinance “is to insure that a sanitary and satisfactory method of preparation, storage, collection, transportation and disposition of solid waste be provided.” The councilmember also added that the ordinance should be “construed liberally” in the amendment by enforcement officials.

Fahl also mentioned that the ordinance involves not just trash, but also applies to recyclable containers. Also the amendment changes the regulation that containers must now be kept out of view from “the addressed street number” instead of out of complete view from any street.

Many residents voiced concerns at other City Council Meetings about their homes that could be seen on multiple streets. The homes on corners or whose backyards can be seen from street view raised many concerns with the ordinance when it was introduced during the first few readings in City Council. Now residents only have to worry about hiding containers from the street where their address is posted.

The amendment changes the date this ordinance will take effect, which is now June 1 instead of January 1.

The ordinance still includes a chance for people to apply for waivers so that they are not penalized for containers in sight of the street. The waivers apply to people with disabilities or any reason that a resident cannot move their trash container out of street address view.

The fine for a first time violation of the trash ordinance will still increase from $20 to $50.