The council's take on trash

September 10, 2004

In an effort to make the city's streets more presentable, the Hagerstown City Council this week tightened up the rules for removal of bulk trash items from city streets.

We hope the council monitors the effect of this rule change closely because enforcement is likely to cost more without producing the desired results.

So what's the problem? There are a couple. One involves city residents who put out trash as much as a week ahead of the collection day. Not only is it unsightly, but as Councilman Lewis Metzner pointed out, it can be a health hazard if stray dogs and cats tear open garbage bags.

Another problem involves residents who place large, bulky items such as mattresses on the streets.

What do other cities do? For regular trash, some require the use of wheeled trash receptacles too large to be blown away in a storm.


Others have trash picked up in alleys, but this could be a problem in Hagerstown, where some property owners have sold off portions of their lots adjacent to alleys.

The council ended up agreeing to change the rule for bulk trash, giving property owners up to five days to move it before fining them up to $200.

Five days? So city residents and visitors can look at mattresses and other assorted junk?

That's ridiculous. Pick it up the day it's reported and bill the property owner. Some owners will contest such bills and the city will have a tough time proving who put the items on the sidewalk. But at least the items will be gone, freeing inspectors for more important tasks.

As for regular trash placed outside on the wrong days, we recommend placing two city workers on a pickup truck to collect that trash and clean up other assorted messes.

If the council's aim is to create a cleaner, more beautiful city, its members should focus on getting the job done instead of tying up inspectors on such menial tasks.

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