Kent enforces stricter trash regulations

 

Story by Martin Harp and Chelsey Milkovich

Video by Jenson Strock

As of April 1, 2015, the City of Kent Health Department will begin giving citations for violations of city ordinance 521.08, which deals with concerns of solid waste management and litter control.

The total number of solid waste violations and time spent by health department staff in Kent has increased significantly over the last few years. Public Health Sanitarian Kyle Kelly said it is the responsibility of each owner, tenant, occupant or person in control of the premise, private or public, to comply with the ordinance.

“There is an ongoing solid waste problem in Kent,” Kelly said. The point of the new trash violations is to make Kent a more beautiful and comfortable living environment.

“Our data shows that 92% of documented solid waste violations occur at rental properties,” Kelly said. “We believe that most owner-occupied properties take more pride in the appearance of their home.” Kelly said the streets with the most frequent violations include: E Main, E Summit, Lincoln, College, Depeyster, and University.

Business owners and residents of the city who do not comply with ordinance 521.08 will face citations similar to a parking ticket. The ticket will range from $10 to $40 depending on the number of violations present at the property of the residents and business owners.

City ordinance 521.08 states “each owner, tenant, occupant or person in control of any premises, private or public, shall at times keep the premises clean of excessive loose litter, uncontainerized solid waste, or any other material dangerous to the public health.”

Those who are given a citation have up to 24 hours to correct the violation. The Kent Health Department states that those in violation will be contacted via email or phone if they are unable to speak at the time the violation was observed. If the violation is corrected within the first 24 hours, residents and owners will receive a letter outlining the violation(s) that were corrected and where they can go to pay the citation within 30 days.

If owners are unable to correct the violation within the first 24 hour period, they will be given an additional fee of up to $250. They will be sent a letter outlining the violations to be paid in the next 30 days and the solid waste may even be removed from the property at the expense of the owner. If the 30 days pass without payment, a late fee of 100% (including the citation and secondary fine) will be applied. The total amount due is then handed over to the Portage County Auditor to be collected on property taxes.

In 2012, City Council approved additions to section 521.08 of the Codified Ordinance. The additions allowed the Health Department to fine properties in violation of the ordinance. “However, those in violation were provided 48 hours to bring the property into compliance,” Kelly said. Unfortunately, data shows that trash violations have note reduced in the last two years since the additions were made to 521.08, despite the threat of fines over the last two years. The new citation violations will require tenants to comply within 24 hours.

By changing the amount of time the tenants have to comply (from 48 hours to 28 hours,) Kelly believes it will improve the aesthetics.

The Department of Public Health issued out a list of tips for tenants and landlords to help them ensure that they were in compliance with ordinance 521.08. Some of those tips include:

  1. Picking up loose litter from the property
  2. Knowing in advance what day your assigned trash pickup day is
  3. Secure all trash in trash cans with a tight fitting lid
  4. Make sure there are enough trash cans available to store all trash
  5. Do not take trash or furniture to the curb before 7 p.m. the day before pickup
  6. Retrieve empty trash cans and recycle containers the same day as pickup
  7. If a special pickup is needed for things such as mattresses, couches etc., call ahead several days in advance to ensure proper removal

“The goal of the program is to reduce the total number of solid waste nuisances in the city,” Kelly said. “Reduced trash violations will also decrease public health and safety issues.”

The Department of Public Health also encourages residents and business owners to call their active trash service several days in advance to find out if special pick up is necessary and to ensure the proper removal procedure. Kelly encourages all tenants and residents of Kent to comply with the ordinance to reduce trash violations and believes if they do not, they should face further consequences. “We believe that properties that do not comply with the ordinance should assist in funding the enforcement program versus the average taxpayer,” Kelly said.

For more information on compliance for tenants and landlords in the city of Kent, visit www.kentpublichealth.org