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City Council OKs amended trash ordinance

By KEVIN GREEN - kgreen@thecouriertimes.com

After spending the past 14 months or so talking about it, New Castle City Council members have made a few minor changes to the city’s trash ordinance.

The primary reason changes to the ordinance were being considered was to improve the city’s curb appeal.

It was decided Monday the existing ordinance, with a few changes, is sufficient, providing it is followed and violators are held accountable.

Council member Rex Peckinpaugh shared his thoughts on amending the trash ordinance. Those suggestions later passed on first reading by a vote of 5 to 2, with council members Mary Brewington and Lynn Perdue voting no.

The changes approved include the following.

Not more than three heavy trash items, objects that won’t fit in the provided trash tote, per residence will be removed on specific dates announced by the Street Department not more often than monthly and not less than bi-monthly. The resident must contact the Street Department and make arrangements for removal of such items, which should be placed curbside no earlier than one day prior to the pick-up date specified by the city.

Large items placed curbside in opposition to this approach will beconsidered litter and the responsible parties will be cited by the city.

Within 30 days of final passage of the amended ordinance, the city will announce heavy trash pick-up dates for the rest of the year and post the dates on the city website (www.cityofnewcastle.net). In future years, the city will post heavy trash pick-up dates by Jan. 15.

Only heavy trash generated at a given residence should be place curbside in front of that residence.

Trash containers (totes) are the property of the city and should not be relocated to another property.

Street department employees will report violations as they are observed to the city building inspector, who is responsible for prosecuting violators.

Anyone hauling trash over city streets is required to have it covered by a tarp or similar cover to prevent it from blowing or falling out of the truck.

Violators will be fined not less than $100 and the illegally placed items must be removed within 24 hours. If the items in question are not removed within 24 hours the city will remove them and charge the violator a sum not less than $100.

The building inspector may issue no more than one warning to any given offender, at the inspector’s discretion.

It is the responsibility of the property owner and the resident, if different than the property owner, to comply with the ordinance. Violations will be assessed against both the property owner and resident.

Any citation for violating the ordinance will be posted in a conspicuous manner at the residence, most likely via a door knob hanger, and a copy will be mailed to the property owner’s address as determined by the county auditor’s office for tax purposes.

Those who refuse to pay fines or costs associated with violating the ordinance will be summoned into city court where the judge has the option of adding the amount due to the responsible party’s property tax bill.

Perdue said while the intent of the ordinance is good, it is unenforceable.

“We’ve not taking any steps forward in cleaning our community,” Perdue said. “The bottom line is I don’t think we made a move forward at all tonight.”

Perdue said in most cases violators are renters and those renters have a habit of leaving their landlords responsible for expenses like fines for improper trash disposal.

Brewington also explained her opposition to the amended ordinance and agreed with Perdue that it is unenforceable.

“A lot of people who get these fines are never going to pay it,” she said. “A lot of people in New Castle do not have that kind of money, and you can drag them through court or do whatever you want, but you can not make somebody pay it if they haven’t got it.”

Peckinpaugh said he is hopeful enforcing the existing ordinance does represent progress in addressing this issue.

Council president Mark Koger also voiced his support for the amended ordinance, which is consistent with the opinion he has shared on the subject since the trash debate began.

City attorney David Copenhaver said following final council approval the ordinance will be published in The Courier-Times. A 30 day period will follow in which those opposed to the changes may file a remonstrance. If there are no objections, the measure becomes law and can be enforced.

The council will next meet at 6:30 p.m. March 19 in council chambers on the second floor of the municipal building, 227 N. Main St., New Castle.

Trash Ordinance Changes

The most significant changes to New Castle’s trash ordinance follow.

1) Large trash items, things that won’t fit in the provided toters, will be collected no more often than once per month and no less often than every other month in keeping with a schedule the city will post on its website within 30 days.

2) There is a limit of three large trash items per residence per large trash collection day.

3) Those residents with large trash should set it curbside no sooner than the day before it is to be collected.

4) Those residents with large trash items must call the Street Department in advance to let them know where to pick up said items.

5) Violators may be fined not less than $100. If the city has to clean up large items placed in violation of the ordinance a fee of not less than $100 will be added to the total amount due. If not paid, all fines and fees will be added to the property owner’s property tax bill at the at the discretion of the city court judge.