Several changes are being proposed regarding the City of Owensboro’s collection of solid waste, such as requiring the lid to close on containers as well as imposing fines surrounding garbage collection, stacking limbs in streets, and failure to maintain operating conditions of commercial and industrial containers.
City Commissioners heard a first reading Tuesday of an ordinance regarding proposed amendments to be made to Public Works’ Garbage and Refuse Collection Service Ordinance. The current ordinance was enacted in 1995.
“Mr. (Wayne) Shelton can tell you countless issues they’ve faced with the enforcement arm of this in dealing with individuals,” said Assistant City Manager Lelan Hancock. “The previous ordinance didn’t allow for any type of enforcement. 1995 was the first time this ordinance came about so, 25 years later, their business model has changed as well.”
Most amendments in the 13-page proposal are wording changes and clarifications.
“Areas are being addressed with the goal of bringing our ordinance up to date to reflect technology changes, refine or expand the definitions, install a mechanism for enforcement activity, and align the ordinance with past organizations of public works,” Public Works Director Wayne Shelton said.
One clarification Shelton proposed involved “trash fitting in the dumpster or toter.” Issues faced by Public Works have included overfilled toters.
“All that loose trash falls beside the truck and not into the truck, and that contributes to a litter issue,” he said, adding that the updated ordinance would clarify that trash sitting beside or on top of the toters would constitute a “special collection.”
A pair of changes proposed by Shelton surrounds both setting out and putting away mobile containers on the day of service.
According to the proposed ordinance, at locations where service issues persist for mobile containers repeatedly not being placed timely at curb, a return for collection will constitute a special collection and a service fee of $25 may be added to the monthly sanitation charge for each return collection required.
A similar fine could be issued for failure to remove the mobile container. If upon a notice of violation the mobile container remains at the curb for 24 hours, a citation shall be issued and a fine of $25 shall be assessed to include an additional administrative service fee of $25 for each violation for a total of fifty dollars $50 for each occurrence cited.
Another proposed change includes a fine for improper residential disposal of limbs and brush. Logs and brush shall not be placed inside mobile containers or bulk containers. Brush shall be prepared with butt end behind the curb and sidewalk and not in the street.
Stacking limbs and brush on the streets, sidewalks, and medians in strictly prohibited areas may result in notice of violation by code official requiring removal and may result in a citation if uncorrected with a $50 fine or fee assessed per citation.
“Typically, you’ll place those limbs in your yard. Some people lay them over the sidewalk and onto the street as well,” Hancock said. “If they fit [in the grassy space between the sidewalk and street], that’s fine as long as they don’t overhang. If you were in a wheelchair, riding a bike or walking, you’d appreciate those not being there.”
According to the proposal, all waste must be deposited in the mobile container with the lid closed. Material protruding from the container may prevent the container from being collected. Loose items/bags or boxes set on or beside a mobile container will not be collected during regular collection service and constitutes a special load for which there are additional charges.
Residential customers may purchase blue overflow trash bags at City Hall for excess trash. Bags shall be collected on regular sanitation service day. Bags shall be placed four feet from the mobile container and should not exceed 30 pounds in weight for collection.
In an effort to help curb complaints, Public Works is also proposing a special collection procedure.
“When a person puts a recliner out in front of his house, he’s supposed to call in to sanitation and notify that there’s a special collection for this location,” Shelton said. “Half the time, no one will call in. That old couch or recliner sits there for 2-3 weeks.”
The updated ordinance would create an implied contract stating that, if someone sets the materials out on the curb without contacting the sanitation department, they are OK with the department coming by to pick it up.
Shelton said the ordinance would also set a time limitation of seven days for removal of demolition waste for residential locations. Some houses demolished by homeowners have had waste left in the yards up to three years, he said.
Fines can also be assessed at commercial and industrial establishments.
According to the proposal, materials shall be placed in the bulk container so that lids close and doors shut. Over-full containers may be subject to a rate of one-and-a-half times the standard rate. No debris shall be placed on top of the container or piled around the container.
Purchased bulk containers shall be properly maintained to include doors, lids, and lift attachments in acceptable operating conditions and remain materially sound. Containers failing to meet these conditions shall be tagged out of service by the sanitation manager and repair or replacement shall be directed to the owner. Failure to remedy shall be a violation of OMU Code, shall be cited by code officials and be subject to a fine of no less than $100 and up to $500 with remedial measures requiring immediate replacement or leasing of a replacement until repaired.
Hancock said the Public Works department would soon list these ordinance changes on their website.