City changes refuse policy to address illegal dumping

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By Andrea Cordle
Westside Editor

Columbus Councilman Emmanuel Remy frequently fields complaints from residents and business owners about trash.

“Columbus is putting tools in the toolbox to deal with these issues,” said Remy at a July 21 public hearing about proposed changes to the city code that would create more opportunities for solid waste and illegal dumping enforcement. The changes will also strengthen enforcement for abandoned property set outs and dumping in the right-of-way.

On July 27, city council approved the policy changes.

According to Tim Swauger, with the Columbus Division of Refuse, many of the problems stem from people moving out of a residence or being evicted then just leaving their furniture or other items in the public right-of-way assuming someone will pick it up. This is especially prevalent on the Hilltop.

“The abandoned properties, move outs and set outs are causing a lot of debris,” said Swauger. “We have heard loudly from residents about this issue.”

Regarding bulk collection, it is the duty of any person to notify the division of refuse collection to schedule a date for bulk collection. Swauger said bulk items cannot be placed out for more than 72 hours prior to the scheduled collection. Bulk will only be schedule at an occupied dwelling.

According to Swauger, the property owner is responsible for disposal of abandoned property. That property cannot be placed at a curb, in an alley, or in the right-of-way without permission from the city to do so. In the event of an eviction, the property owner must arrange for collection and disposal through an authorized licensed commercial waste hauler.

All provisions in the code are enforceable by any law enforcement officer or law enforcement agency.

Another issue city officials have heard complaints about is people leaving their trash container in the street or right-of-way for days. Now there are new rules regarding the storage of trash containers.

According to Swauger, the previous code allowed residents to set out their trash container 12 hours before the pick-up day and 24 hours after pick-up. The new provision says residents can place their trash container out after 6 p.m. the day prior to collection and must remove the container from the point of collection by 2 p.m. the day following the scheduled collection.

“It is new that we have a set time,” said Swauger.

The use of the 300-gallon containers will be limited to persons living in the residential block and serviced by alley collection. The large container shall only be relocated by division of refuse personnel. Swauger said this is designed to eliminate misuse of the large containers.
Swauger said there is also a problem with improper use of containers. People are putting items in the container that are not bagged. When the city collects the trash, the loose items blow out of the refuse truck.

“It’s just unmanageable to us,” said Swauger.

He said the workers cannot get out of the truck to pick up the items that have blown out.

“We require the trash to be bagged,” he said.

Some residents cannot afford trash bags.

According to Swauger, the city is working to build a long-term relationship with organizations that would get people trash bags if needed.

These policy changes give the city the authority to enforce some of these issues.

“It will help get a handle on illegal dumping,” said Swauger.

The new policy will include civil penalties that range from $100 to $1,000.

For more information on the refuse policy changes, visit www.columbus.gov/publicservice.

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