Aldermen eye stronger laws on garbage, trash

Published 5:00 am Friday, May 5, 2006

Brookhaven officials will consider new ordinances in an effortto force more citizen cooperation in regard to solid wastedisposal.

Despite public education efforts and pleas for cooperation, cityofficials say they continue to have problems with massive piles ofgarbage and debris being left on city streets. One official saidthe problem is due to a lack of enforcement in current laws.

“You’re not enforcing what’s on the books,” Solid WasteDepartment Superintendent Willie Smith told aldermen during a worksession Thursday night.

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He indicated aldermen were being contacted by residents for cityhelp with getting rid of garbage, and that was exacerbating theproblem.

“Until the city sticks a big fine on somebody, we’re going toforever have it,” Smith said.

As with other discussions, aldermen raised several possibilitiesfor getting residents to cooperate and to separate garbage fromtrash. Legal and other questions surfaced regarding nearly everysuggestion.

Ward Five Alderman D.W. Maxwell said the bill for the citycleaning up big piles of garbage should be put on residents’ waterbills.

“You’re going to get their attention if you just charge it outon that bill,” Maxwell said.

City Attorney Joe Fernald was unsure whether the city could thencut off water service if the resident did not pay the garbagebill.

Fernald said an existing option is for neighbors to file acomplaint in municipal court over excessive garbage. However, hesaid people are reluctant to do that.

“They don’t want to stand up and be counted when the timecomes,” Fernald said.

City officials discussed one scenario in which Smith would begiven authority to file complaints in city court against residentswith major garbage piles in their yards.

Public Works Director Steve Moreton said existing cityordinances going back as far as 1932 address littering, garbage andother solid waste buildup prohibitions.

Following more discussion, aldermen agreed to have Smith,Moreton and Mayor Bob Massengill review existing ordinances andcome up with suggestions for revisions or new laws. Massengillhoped to have those ready for discussion at the next city boardmeeting.

Massengill cautioned aldermen that city officials must standfirm in their resolve to address solid waste problems. He indicatedthere could not be instances where exceptions are made based on thepeople involved.

“There’s got to be consistency,” Massengill said.

In another matter, Fernald said he had met with the manager ofPizza Hut regarding Ward One Alderman Dorsey Cameron’s concernsabout the restaurant not delivering to certain parts of town afterdark.

Citing the manager’s comments, Fernald said the delivery actionwas a “corporate decision.”

“She said that was out of her hands,” Fernald said.

Fernald said incidents of crime, both nationally and locally,were mentioned as part of the reason for the decision. The attorneysaid he had spoken with Police Chief Pap Henderson, who was lookingto find crimes involving local pizza delivery drivers.