Home Politics Residents, professors comment on trash ordinance

Residents, professors comment on trash ordinance

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Over the past few weeks, Mayor Paul Wiehl’s office has been inspecting homes and issuing warnings around Athens for violations of an ordinance requiring that trash cans be “out of sight,” which was originally put in place in 2005.

Residents, including Ohio University professors Bernhard Debatin, Patty Stokes and Kathleen Sullivan, expressed concerns with the warnings issued. A new ordinance, which was in its second reading at Monday’s meeting, would allow the city to begin issuing citations on Jan. 1.

“I wish they would use code enforcement for things that are relevant, like snow removal,” Debatin said.

Debatin, one of the homeowners who received a warning, said that his trash can was far enough from the street and that it could only be seen by squinting or using binoculars. He said the current code with the “out of sight” language included would put a burden on citizens.

“I believe that we have a problem with people leaving their trash cans out on the street from Monday to Monday,” Debatin said.

Stokes, Debatin’s wife, seconded his sentiments and suggested a change to the ordinance.

“It seems to me that one way to reduce the red tape would be to allow cans to be a certain distance back from the street,” Stokes said.

Sullivan posed her statements directly to Mayor Wiehl, asking why the current trash ordinance had not been enforced and why his office is now strictly enforcing the trash ordinance.

Mayor Wiehl responded that he was asked to reevaluate what the city was doing about trash, so he did.

The Mayor said approximately 65 percent of the city had been inspected. A report of the observations concluded that approximately 37 percent of the homes inspected were in violation.

Mayor Wiehl insisted that the warnings issued were only warnings, although one resident, Joel Bitters, said his warning mentioned he should be prepared for prosecution from Athens Law Director Patrick Lang’s office.

“It was brought to my attention earlier that they made mention referring to my office for prosecution,” Lang said. “I want to reassure folks that that’s not going to be the case.”

Wiehl said that every step was taken that will be taken in the future when issuing these citations, including taking pictures and clearly documenting the violations. Council Member Fahl, who introduced the ordinance at an earlier meeting, said the warnings issued were only to collect data about the number of residents who were in violation of the current ordinance.

“To get baseline data, I don’t think the warnings needed to be issued,” Fahl said. Mayor Wiehl also mentioned that the warnings were a way of getting word out about the new ordinance to be passed.

Also passed at Monday nights meeting was the Nuisance Party ordinance, making a first offense of aloud partying a minor misdemeanor, not a criminal offense. An animal ordinance, which allows police officers or code enforcement officers to issue warnings and citations for loud animals, was also adopted. Fines for this citation start at $20.

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