Trash ordinance passes

By: 
Staff Writer Becky Killian

City officials unanimously approved an extensively edited trash ordinance on its first reading.

The vote occurred during the Tuesday, Nov. 12, meeting of the Salem Common Council.

The final version of the ordinance contains many changes from the one the council considered in September. Included among those changes is a reduction in the initial penalties a resident might incur if the ordinance is violated. It also restricts how the decorative trash containers on the Square can be used.

The ordinance details the following requirements:

• Residents must use a portable container or a trash bag of sufficient strength to contain refuse so it’s not scattered.

• Decorative trash receptacles on the Square are only for “casual use” by the general public. Any residential customer, commercial customer, or industry is forbidden from using the receptacles to dispose of trash from any residence, business, or industry.

• Trash, yard waste, or recyclables must be placed curbside no more than 24 hours before collection time and the trash bins must be removed from curbside and placed out of view the same day as materials are collected.

The ordinance calls for a written warning on the first offense. If there’s a second offense, the city won’t pick up what is in violation of the ordinance until the violation is remedied. Third and subsequent offenses can result in fines of $25 to $500. Also, the court can order the impoundment of the vehicle used in the unlawful dumping, if it is owned by the violator, for up to 90 days.

Ryan Bower, the city’s attorney, noted that fines are subject to court approval.

The ordinance also lists the “duties of residential customers” which includes the requirement that all trash placed in receptacles be placed in heavy-duty trash bags that aren’t overfilled beyond manufacturer’s specifications. Also, trash receptacles must have sturdy handles, not be overfilled, and be dry and free of rainwater and snow.

Trash must be placed curbside no later than 7 a.m. on the normal trash day.

Prior to the vote, Councilman Anthony Scifres stressed that the purpose of the ordinance is to prevent injuries to city workers or workers contracted by the city to pick up trash, not to force residents to weigh their trash. He noted of particular concern are the 55-gallon drums being used as trash receptacles that have no handles or drain holes to keep the bin from becoming heavier due to accumulated water.

“It’s not safe for anybody to pick up,” Scifres said. “It’s not a trash can.”

Councilman Steve Crane made the motion to pass the ordinance on the first reading. His motion met unanimous approval in a vote.

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