Trash to treasure? Or breaking the law?
On garbage day in many central Ohio communities, pick-up trucks slowly prowl residential streets looking for treasures that have been placed to the curb as trash.
For many of the collectors, the broken furniture and out-grown toys will be repaired and sold for profit. Bexley resident Robert Jessberger donates the items he gathers to charity.
"Go down to the Kidney Foundation," Jessberger said. "Most of the toys there are from me."
To Jessberger, he is saving items from landfills and giving to charity, but to the Bexley Police, he is breaking the law.
City code prevents anyone from removing items from a resident's trash.
For instance, if a resident placed a tricycle with the trash, a neighbor would break the law if that person salvaged it for his own child.
Jessberger has been cited but never charged for violating the trash code multiple times, Police Chief Larry Rinehart said.
City councilwoman Robyn Jones said people in her neighborhood often place reusable items by the curb early on trash day in the hopes that someone else could use them.
"The furniture in my house probably came out of one of your alleys," councilman Rick Weber said.
Weber said he would schedule a public meeting sometime within the next month to discuss possibly changing the code. Then the city could also hear any privacy concerns residents may have.
Rinehart said he would not like to see the code change because allowing strangers access to trash would lead to more cases of identity theft.
In Gahanna, "an army of raggedy old pick-up trucks" descends on garbage day, Rinehart said. About 98 percent are law-abiding citizens, but the other 2 percent are looking for credit card or other identity information, he said.
"Quit putting things out with the trash that will encourage people to stop by," Rinehart said. "I couldn't be more opposed to changing the trash ordinance."
Jessberger proposes that the city issues licenses to the "Junkers." The Junkers would sign a code of contact that would include an understanding that they may not open dumpsters, cans or trash bags.
"I am not picking up bags of trash and I am not making a mess," Jessberger said. "There is a difference between 'going through someone's trash' and picking up discarded lawnmowers, leaf blowers, vacuums, cribs, large children's toys, et cetera that have been placed on top or beside a receptacle."
Weber said there are lots of facilities that take used items and that the council should "look at ways to improve residents' commitment" to donate items.
• Council authorized the mayor to sell the Bexley Tree Nursery to Jubilee Brice, LLC (a partnership including Jay Schottenstein). The property is on 2.44 acres, but only 1 acre may be built upon because the land includes part of Alum Creek.
Companies could no longer afford to develop the property and still make a profit, therefore the land was sold at $350,000 though the original price was $600,000, Weber said.
• On Jan. 20 at 9:30 a.m., the Drexel will open its doors free to anyone wanting to watch the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama. The theater will project the proceedings from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and offer refreshments.
Parking will be permitted along Main Street and beside the theater, Brennan said.
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