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City Council Stirs Debate Over Garbage Ordinance

[dropcap]A[/dropcap]thens City Council riled up yet another discussion regarding amendments of the city’s Garbage and Rubbish Ordinance during Monday night’s City Council meeting.

The Garbage and Rubbish Ordinance would require that residents keep trashcans and rubbish out of street view, in an effort to beautify Athens.

“People are driving around and seeing garbage cans,” said Councilwoman Chris Fahl.

Previously, during the ordinance’s first reading, councilmembers and citizens were concerned with the language of the proposal, as it was slightly unclear and vague.

On Monday night, during the ordinance’s second reading, many councilmembers were pleased with the wording changes and the addition of a waiver process within the proposal. However, Councilman Steven Patterson mentioned possible confusion regarding the definition of streets versus alleys, while Councilman Jeff Risner expressed fear of a likely coding issue concerning screened fences at the front of houses.

“I applaud the differences as well,” said Councilman Kent Butler, who then expressed apprehension with the new decree’s measures start date.

Councilmembers weren’t the only individuals displaying unease about the proposed Garbage and Rubbish Ordinance. Beverly Flanigan, member of the Westside Community Association, voiced extreme concern and desire for a new waiver process.

“I proposed an exemption system,” said Flanigan. “I sent them all an email suggesting that they include a waiver exemption system by organizing a committee that would include at least one citizen, maybe two, plus a court officer, plus a counselor.”

According to Flanigan, this committee would then review all requests for waivers and either accept or refuse the exemption.

Flanigan provided examples of possible waiver-granting situations, including steep backyard hillsides and elderly or developmentally disabled individuals.

Flanigan also mentioned the possibility of temporary exemptions for cases such as pregnancy. “There would be room for both temporary and permanent exemptions,” she said.

In regards to the current proposal of the city’s Garbage and Rubbish Ordinance, Flanigan remains unsupportive and disapproving.

“This system simply goes back to the present situation in which the Service Safety Director, Paula Moseley, or the Code Director, John Paszke, can make whatever decisions they want and they’re not accountable for anybody,” said Flanigan. “This is no good. It takes us right back to square one.”

“We will continue to oppose this,” concluded Flanigan.

Despite unceasing conflictions and concerns, the councilmembers approved the new amendment of the Garbage and Rubbish Ordinance.

The council will give the measure further readings within the coming weeks.

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