GARLAND — After receiving some backlash from residents in response to a new ordinance imposing a $25 fee if trash cans were not removed by a certain time, the timeframe has been extended and a refund for one purposed violator was issued.
During the Garland Board of Commissioners meeting this week, deputy town clerk Jennifer Richardson noted 37 pink violation slips issued in the first two weeks, with two payments received.
“The first day of enforcement of the roll-out container ordinance was on May 2 — we had 21 violations,” said Richardson, who handles code enforcement for the town. Commissioner Haywood Johnson has been in charge of traversing the town for violators. “The next week, May 9, we had 16 violations. Of those 16, seven were in violation for the second time.”
The Garland board approved the ordinance and associated fees at last month’s meeting, putting them into effect May 1.
The board said trash should be put out no earlier than 5 p.m. Tuesday for regular Wednesday collection and removed from curbs — and placed behind homes away from “street view” — no later than 8 a.m. Thursday morning. The board approved a fee of $25 for the first offense, $50 for the second and ascending in $25 increments for each subsequent violation.
Richardson said she believed the recidivism problem was due in large part because the notices were not sent out in Spanish, and the English-language notice could not be interpreted. “So as they came in and paid their water bills, I do address the violation at that time,” Richardson said.
Two payments had been received, however many others had not even inquired as to why they received the notices in the first place, the deputy clerk noted. One of the payments received came from Kathy Puryear, who said the ticket was unfair.
A letter by Puryear, on behalf of her mother, who lives in the 200 block of North Ingold Avenue, was read by Richardson at Tuesday’s meeting. In it, frustrations were expressed with the new ordinance and enforcement that began with a fine.
“The citizens pay for garbage pick-up and not to be told where to keep them on their property,” the letter stated. “As for eyesores, if they have no better use of time than to stare at other’s trash cans, that’s their problem not mine. I paid the $25 fine because it was issued, even though it was not fair or correct. This is wasteful insight when this could be directed toward other problems.”
She said neighbors should look out for each other instead of reporting each other, and trash crews should be directed to put cans back away from the street in an effort to prevent any damage or obstacles before they occur.
“Placing notices on cans is wasteful, and not helpful,” the letter stated. “As for my particular incident, the cans are not on the curb. They are placed way off the side street (5th Street) to begin with, and even when moving them back, you can still see them from the street. We were told over 15 months ago, the placement was fine where they were. They are a necessity, not a burden or hazard to others when elderly live there.”
Other,s including resident John Jones and S.J. Smith, also raised concerns about the new ordinance. Jones, who received a notice, said his commercial status should not make him subject to a residential violation. His building’s placement between a number of roads makes it near impossible to comply with the letter of the new law.
Jones chided the lack of communication by the town and Johnson before issuing the ticket, which he said was not signed. Smith said he felt there was not enough turnaround time for the ordinance. The board also discussed Puryear’s concerns further.
“I do think we need to use a little common sense on some of these things,” said Commissioner Ralph Smith. “What might be at the back of my house might be at the front of someone else’s. I know one we’ve been looking at put in behind their house as far as they could get it, but somebody else was looking at it. You just have to accept you might have to look at somebody’s trash can.”
Smith said he felt it would be unreasonable to require every resident to have their trash cans behind the homes, out of view.
“You can’t put them all out of sight,” said Smith. “I do think they need to be pulled back away from the curb.”
“As long as it’s not in the road or on the curb,” Commissioner Matthew Register added. “I’m sorry people have to look at them.”
Town clerk Jennifer Gray recommended issuing the notices in Spanish, which the board approved. The board also unanimously approved issuing a refund to Puryearand amending the ordinance to read that trash cans should be removed from curbs by Thursday at 5 p.m.
“With us just getting started,” said Mayor Winifred Murphy, “Commissioner Johnson just needs some clarification, because we have had just a few concerns. With direction from the board, he will be able to manage that and we can be consistent. He will be able to better know what the board’s pleasure is.”
Murphy said she was not criticizing the current enforcement action, but rather seeking clarification for future efforts.
“Those trash cans that got a pink slip on them were on the curb,” said Johnson. “On the curb.”
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121 or via email at email@example.com.