Home Politics Proposed changes to the trash ordinance sparks debate between mayor and city council

Proposed changes to the trash ordinance sparks debate between mayor and city council

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Concerned community members as well as local authorities have noticed a growing problem with sanitation standards in residential areas, and, as a result, talk has continued among city council members and the mayor on how to go about addressing the issue.

A recently proposed change to the current Athens City code by At-Large Rep. Steve Patterson and Fourth Ward Rep. Chris Fahl called for increased fines on trash can violations and redefined what constituted a “safe and sanitary condition.”

Since then, citizens and city officials have not been able to agree on the wording of the changes to the ordinance. Individuals, like Joan Kraynanski of the West Side Neighborhood Association, have even participated in drafting the legislation.

The likelihood of this legislation being implemented any time soon was reduced this week as backlash from Mayor Paul Wiehl was brought forward.

At the Athens City Council meeting this Monday, Wiehl threatened to veto the bill over concerns that the council was trying to reduce his office’s discretional authority. Wiehl was also opposed to the removal of a proposed waiver system that would allow residents who are physically incapable of following the new law to ignore it and took issue with a contradiction between the new requirements and what is already established by city code regarding additional fencing on properties.

Wiehl is not the only elected official to voice concerns. First Ward Rep. Kent Butler also does not agree with the language as it currently stands.

“I’m confused by our intent to completely rewrite and rework the legislation when the majority of Athens is in compliance, ” Butler said. “I agree that we do have a few areas that continuously seem to be problematic. But I would like to see us continue to address those areas or be heavy with our new fine system.”

Meanwhile, people heavily in favor of the existing change, like Kraynanski, are challenging the mayor’s campaign promises.

“When you ran for your first election in your first campaign for mayor, one of the very issues you ran on was, ‘let’s get the trash out of view,’ and I’m holding you to that,” said Kraynanski directly to Wiehl on Monday.

Until an agreement can be reached, residents are encouraged to prepare for potential changes by ensuring their garbage cans are not within street view. Should the changes become permanent, efforts to educate the public about what specifically they will need to do will be among the top priorities for members of city council.

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