Articles, Enrichment, Political

City Council Talks Trash, Again

[dropcap]A[/dropcap]thens City Council was bursting with agitation from both the council and residents during Monday night’s meeting due to a recent slew of trash violation warnings distributed throughout the city.

These warnings were issued throughout Athens by city code enforcers as a way to collect data for the proposed amendments of the city’s Garbage and Rubbish Ordinance.

The Garbage and Rubbish Ordinance would require that residents keep all garbage containers and rubbish out of street view. Those who fail to keep their trash out of sight under the suggested amendments would receive a costlier citation of $50, instead of $20.

Many residents took a stand at the meeting to express a multitude of concerns about the hundreds of warnings issued over the past two weeks for supposed trash violations.

Bernhard Debatin, a journalism professor and resident of Athens, voiced unease about the wording of the ordinance. How in-site or not in-site trashcans are is really “a matter of interpretation,” he said.

“Yes it was visible, but really only if you squint really hard or use binoculars,” Debatin said in regards to the placement of his trashcans. “I think that this is not very reasonable.”

Councilmember Chris Fahl disagreed with what she referred to as a confusing “cleaning sweep” for baseline data. “I think that the last couple of weeks when people have gotten warnings has led to some confusion about this ordinance,” she said.

Mayor Paul Wiehl, who was advised by legislation to perform this data collection, quickly defended his decision. “We’re not being robust because we haven’t cited anybody yet,” said Wiehl.

Wiehl again mentioned the amendment’s poor wording and failure to explain what exactly qualifies as out of street view. “Is there a difference between out of site and out of site?” he asked.

Ohio University professor Patty Stokes suggested that the council require trashcans to be placed a certain distance away from the street. “Having it next to the house is the least noxious thing to do,” she said.

“I kind of think the way we’re going about this…is a bit of a disturbance,” said Joel Bitters, another Athens resident.

According to Wiehl, about 65% of the city has been viewed and taken into account for data collection thus far. Out of this 65%, 37.4% of Athens City residents did not pass the inspection.

The collection will occur for one more week to complete the three-week assessment.

“I’m trying to get ahead of your ordinance,” Wiehl said to the council members.

A conclusion has yet to be made about the current amendment; the Garbage and Rubbish Ordinance will meet in two weeks for a final reading.

During Monday night’s meeting, councilmembers also adopted an ordinance amending the city code’s penalties for nuisance parties. Those charged with this violation will now only receive a civil fine, and will be given the opportunity to contest.

“We believe it’s fair and balanced the way it was crafted,” concluded Councilman Steve Patterson.

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