GARLAND — Town residents said they are tired of dealing with the same garbage.
Garland residents have long raised concerns about trash cans being left at curbs, an issue that especially rears its smelly head when the weather gets warmer. In response to those concerns, some of which were raised at Tuesday’s town meeting, the Garland Board of Commissioners set a rule, and has attached sizable fines penalizing those who do not follow it.
With trash collection done throughout the town Wednesday morning, board members said the cans should be gone by the start of business Thursday.
“We seriously get at least two to three calls a month about nasty, stinking trash cans,” said town clerk Jennifer Gray.
Resident Eunice Fincannon, during the public comment section of the meeting, said it bothers her to look out her front door and see her neighbor’s trash sitting there. She asked those in attendance if they had trash cans.
“Do they have wheels on them?” Fincannon asked. “Now the people who pick them up and put them in the dumpster, they don’t need those wheels. It is our responsibility to remove them and put them out of sight, off the road and out of the street.”
She said she wants the town to be beautiful, and streets dotted with stinking eyesores was not a good look.
“If we’re going to put our trash in the front yard, that’s not cleaning the town,” said Fincannon. “Many of the garbage containers around the town are in the streets. The trash cans are there and they are running over. Could we do something? We’re a small town and we could be cleaner. I know other towns have ordinances that they have to be off the street and, if they’re not, they’re penalized.”
Fincannon pointed to such a regulation currently imposed in Fayetteville.
“Their people aren’t any more important to that town than we are to ours,” she said. “I think those of us who try to clean, we want to have a clean place to live and we want our neighbors to respect our town and be clean as well.”
Waste Management will roll containers back to homes if they have been notified that the primary resident is unable or otherwise disabled, town officials said. Mayor Winifred Murphy said information letters could be sent out, which has been done by the town before, asking that residents move their trash cans back and warning of possible fines.
“But that’s not working,” said Commissioner Ralph Smith, who noted that problems go beyond the aesthetic. Employee Val Bannerman, as he is working on streets, has to continue to move cans back off the street and sidewalk.
“I think we need to start hitting people with fines,” said Commissioner Matthew Register.
He suggested $25 for the first offense, $50 for the second, $75 for the third and $100 for the fourth, and ascending in $25 increments for each subsequent violation. With trash collection on Wednesday, residents will have until the open of business Thursday morning to remove their trash containers from curbs, Register recommended.
Commissioner Haywood Johnson made the motion that trash should be put out no earlier than 5 p.m. Tuesday and removed from curbs — placed behind homes — no later than 8 a.m. Thursday morning. The vote was unanimous.
A second motion was made to address penalties for non-compliance. Register made his suggestion a motion, with $25 be charged for the initial offense and increasing $25 for each following offense. Johnson seconded it, after which there was some discussion.
“I’m thinking that maybe that’s a little severe — maybe we should just stay at $25,” said Murphy. “Remember we’ve got a high poverty rate here.”
“We want to eliminate it,” said Commissioner Mike Toler.
“I understand what you’re saying mayor, but poverty doesn’t have nothing to do with you going out and getting that trash can. If you’re disabled, that’s a different thing.”
Register said the time to do something was now, with the temperatures starting to rise.
“We better do something because it’s getting ready to start getting hot, and we’re getting ready to start stinking,” he said.
The vote was again unanimous for the fees. Murphy asked board members who they wished to delegate to go along the trash route and monitor possible violations “for about an hour on Thursday morning.” Johnson said he would be responsible for doing that.
“The thing about that is consistency,” the mayor remarked, “which means you’ve got around the whole town to make sure.”
The new rule is effective May 1.
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121 or via email at email@example.com.