By Andrea Cordle
Grove City Council wants to eliminate visual blight in the community.
At the Feb. 4 meeting, council unanimously voted to amend the property offenses portion of the city code to now include unsolicited written materials.
This legislation is in reference to The Bag, which delivers advertisements and The Columbus Messenger Newspapers. The Bag is delivered by Dispatch Consumer Services.
“We receive numerous trash complaints about these bags blowing into yards and into drainage areas,” said councilwoman Christine Houk. “We are trying to deal with this issue while trying to protect the First Amendment right of the organizations delivering the materials.”
Houk said citizens complain that the delivery drivers throw the materials out of their vehicles into yards or in the streets. This has resulted in clogged storm drains which has backed up water in public rights-of-way.
Councilman Roby Schottke said he walks around his neighborhood and sees the problem firsthand.
“Put them on hooks or in the mail slots. Don’t just thrown them out,” said Schottke. “I’m glad we’re doing this.”
Law Director Stephen Smith said Grove City would pattern its enforcement after Upper Arlington, which approved similar legislation. He said the city will first notify the public of the code change, as well as the delivery company.
“We hope the deliveries meet our expectations,” said Smith. “Upper Arlington has been able to compel compliance with the threat of a citation.”
According to the legislation, no person shall deliver, place or distribute unsolicited written materials to any premise other than on a porch nearest the front door, through a mail slot on the front door, in a distribution box located on the property, securely attached to a hook on the mailbox or within a mail slot, or personally to the occupant of the property. This provision does not apply to the United States Postal Service.
Violations of the code would be classified as a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of $250 per violation.
“This legislation gives the city the ability to cite the driver throwing the materials out of the vehicle or the organization,” said Smith.
Dispatch Consumer Services did not want to comment on the legislation at this time.
In related news, city leaders spoke about a new initiative to reduce the use of plastic bags in the city.
Linda Rosine, environmental coordinator, briefly spoke about the Think Outside the Bag campaign the city is working on. Rosine said this program would encourage city residents to either use reusable bags when shopping or take the plastic bags back to the retail outlet for recycling.
Schottke said several communities have enforced a ban on plastic bags, though he was not sure about going that route yet.
“What should we do instead of plastic bags,” asked the councilman. “We should look at doing things differently.”