China Grove to study trash pickup policy

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 3, 2009

By Jessie Burchette

Salisbury Post

CHINA GROVE — Why do some piles of trash get picked up by town employees and others don’t?

Public Works Director David Ketner took the Board of Aldermen on a tour of the town Tuesday evening, using photos to show curbside piles that are in violation of the town’s current collection ordinance.

Some piles would have filled a dump truck. They included windows, doors, lumber, metal and sheetrock.

Ketner and Town Manager Eric Davis said that if the Board of Aldermen want to change the policy, the town can pick up larger quantities — whatever lands at the curb.

But they said it may take longer or more manpower.

And they suggested that the town can add a charge where large quantities of debris is dumped at the curb.

Several of the photos showed what appeared to be debris from extensive remodeling of houses, or large piles of limbs left by tree trimmers.

Other photos showed large bundles of carpet.

“There is a lot of confusion about the way we pick up (trash)” said Ketner, who provided aldermen with a copy of the trash collection ordinance.

One man operates the truck and tries to cover the entire town in a day.

When they find piles in violation, they leave a yellow tag, explaining the violation.

Ketner said they often explain that the town will provide a truck free of charge. All they have to do is load the debris and the town will haul it off.

He said others simply ignore the rules, the warning and let the debris lie at the curb.

He cited a recent example, where town crews spotted a tree-trimming crew at work in a yard. They advised the workers that the town does not remove debris for contractors, including limbs.

The contractor left a pile of limbs that would overfill a dump truck.

Referring to the rolls of carpet, Ketner said they will haul off carpet if it’s cut in sections. “You can’t ask one man to load that,” said Ketner referring to the photo of what appeared to be a room-size roll of carpet. “And then it gets wet.”

Mayor Don Bringle raised questions about the requirement for using plastic bags for some refuse, including rock or brick.

And Bringle shared his own experience of trying to stuff holly trimmings in plastic bags.

Davis said there are many options available, suggesting the town can add a charge to remove large piles including contractor debris. And instead of plastic bags, Davis said the town can make available a better quality biodegradable bag.

Bringle asked Davis and Ketner to review the ordinance and come back with recommendations. He also asked aldermen to review the ordinance and be ready to make suggestions.

Alderman Troy Elliott offered an immediate opinion, “Our town needs to be cleaner than it is,” he said.

In other matters, the board heard information or acted as follows:

* Aldermen agreed to set a public hearing for Jan. 2 on re-adopting minimum building standards for commercial buildings. It’s similar to the minimum housing code, except for commercial structures.

Tony Cline, code enforcement officer, provided aldermen with copies of the more-than-20-page document. Cline said the town adopted the document many years ago, but no record of the adoption now exists.

Town officials have said previously that a prior town manager discarded large quantities of town records, including minutes of board meetings for multiple years.

Cline said the commercial code ordinance was in the files at Benchmark in Kannapolis, the firm that provides planning services.

Adoption of the ordinance will help with dealing with some deteriorating buildings on South Main Street, Cline said.

* Tina Josey of West Hillside Drive made a pitch to the board for the return of a $200 fee she was required to pay after officials said she tampered with her water meter.

Josey came with several pages of written remarks and a young son who clung to her or scampered about the meeting room. She also brought the water meter box and cover the town had removed.

Josey’s water was cut off after her check bounced. She said she had been late paying on past occasions and her water had been cut off previously.

In a 30-minute-plus presentation, she admitted that she was rude to town employees, but was adamant that she never tampered with the meter or meter box.

She said town employees called police to the scene when she demanded to see an alleged photo of her using a pry bar on the water meter box. She showed off the cast iron lid that she said showed no signs of damage.

Kent Mishak, utilities director, said a small piece of plastic on the box was broken, but he found no evidence of tampering with the meter and no water had flowed through it after the town cut it off.

Aldermen agreed with a motion by Mayor Pro Tem Blair Lyseski to investigate the situation and report back. “I don’t like the way it sounds,” Lyseski said.

* The board unanimously approved the reappointment of David Morton and Richard Deal to the Planning Board for three-year terms.

* The board reappointed Lois Elliott, Harry Mills and the Rev. Don Wagner to new three-year terms on the Zoning Board of Adjustments. Their terms expired Sept. 30.

It also approved asking the Rowan County Board of Commissioners to reappoint Martha Corriher to the board and appoint Carl Ford as an alternate.

The board also agreed to change the expiration dates of all terms on the Zoning Board of Adjustments from September to December, making the terms the same as those on the Planning Board.

In recent years, terms have lapsed for months before reappointments were made.