Town steps up enforcement of rules regarding trash collection
By Alex Bridges
Some residents of a Strasburg neighborhood say the town targeted them for not putting trash in containers for pickup.
Town Manager Judson Rex said Wednesday the town had to ramp up enforcement of the trash collection rules in Hupp's Ridge because the subdivision had not resolved a longstanding problem of residents leaving garbage out in bags.
"It's incumbent upon the residents that for the health and safety of the neighborhood that they put their trash in collection containers," Rex said. "So we said this is kind of the last thing that we do to strictly enforce the ordinance but we're going to do it for this specific neighborhood because it's such a concentrated problem."
The town sent letters two weeks ago to Hupp's Ridge residents and property owners of rental homes advising that Long Enterprises effective Nov. 30 would take trash bags kept in cans only, Rex said. Collectors left behind the bags not in cans, along with stickers stating why they did not pick up the trash.
"Our hope was in the couple weeks folks got that notice they could get out and purchase trash receptacles and get their trash in place," Rex said. "That helped, too. That made a lot of progress and some people went out and bought receptacles and it corrected more of the problem.
"Unfortunately it didn't fix it all," Rex added.
As of Wednesday evening, dozens of trash bags lay in piles along Pendleton Lane and adjacent streets. Resident Kathy Stevens, who does use a bin, expressed concern over whether more trash would pile up after the next Friday pickup.
"Well my main concern is that nothing's being done about it," Stevens said. "The town took a stance and said this is what we're gonna do and this is what you have to do and [some residents] didn't do it. So now he's [Rex] telling me there's nothing we can do.
"It's going to become a health hazard," Stevens added. "It's going to be blowing everywhere."
Hupp's Ridge resident Robert Wald said the town unfairly targets the subdivision while other neighborhoods and residents that put garbage in bags only receive pickup service. Wald explained he has to carry a trash can around from his home to the curb. Wald argued he shouldn't have to pay the town for trash collection if Long doesn't pick up his garbage.
Rex acknowledged other properties in town have the same problem.
"The reason that we are working and concentrating our efforts in this neighborhood is because of the concentration of the problem," Rex said. "I know a lot of the residents are concerned because they think we're only enforcing it there and, yes, at this time, we are because that is where we are able to put our resources in an efficient manner and to help to correct a serious concern."
Rex also acknowledged bags of trash remain from Friday but said that he understood the homeowners association plans to collect the garbage. As Rex explained the association likely can better enforce the requirement, and fine violators, through the group's regulations.
"They understand the problem, too, but it's a challenging one," Rex said.
Issues with garbage in the subdivision began about two years ago with close to half the residents not obeying the town code, according to Rex.
Residents complained about the neighbors leaving trash out for collection. Town staff made an effort to advise residents of the regulations. Zoning Administrator Laura O'Dell spent more than a year talking with residents and the homeowners association and urged them to abide by the rules, Rex recalled. The effort helped cut down the number households that put trash out in bags not bins.
But the problem persisted and O'Dell continued her work with residents. Town staff met with the homeowners association and suggested that, instead of Strasburg collecting money in fees for curbside collection, the organization would take the revenue and install Dumpsters in the neighborhood.
"They didn't like that idea and they had concerns with it and that really became our last effort to solve the problem as a whole," Rex said. "At that point we said this is a difficult and challenging situation but I think we need to get across the fact that people really need to do this."
Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or firstname.lastname@example.org