By Lily Martis and Robert Carroll
Back when students still lived with their parents, typically, Mom cooked dinner, Dad mowed the lawn and the chore of taking out the trash would fall on the children. Now that students have left the nest in pursuit of a college degree and live on their own in off-campus rental properties, taking out the trash is still a necessary chore that must be done weekly.
The City of Kent Health Department data indicates that 92 percent of all documented trash violations involve rental properties – typically rented by students at Kent State University. More than 60 percent of Kent includes rental properties.
On April 1, 2015, Kent adopted stricter trash regulations by issuing immediate citations resulting from violations of city ordinance 521.08. The citation is similar to a parking ticket and ranges from $10 to $40 depending on the number of specific violations on the property.
Those in violation of the local trash ordinance are given 24 hours to comply or risk a secondary fine of up to $250. “The Health Department spends valuable time enforcing the local trash ordinance because many local residents are tired of neighbors who do not comply,” Kyle Kelly, City of Kent public health sanitarian, said. “Trash violations create a constant eye sore throughout the community and can lead to health and safety concerns in certain situations. Trash violations can also hurt property value.”
The streets with the most frequent violations include East Main Street, East Summit Street, Lincoln Street, College Avenue, Depeyster Street and University Drive, Kelly said.
“We believe that most owner-occupied properties take more pride in the appearance of their home,” Kelly said. “Complying with the local trash ordinance needs to be a priority for all tenants and landlords.”
Steve Mileski manages several properties in Kent but could not be reached before this article was published. According to a few of his tenants, he does not pay for trash services.
On College Avenue, Elizabeth Alder, a tenant of Mileski for the past two years, and her four other roommates collectively pay $63.30 every other month for their trash service with Republic. “All of the extra utilities are on us,” Alder said. “It would be helpful if [Mileski] took care of it because it’s a hassle to set up.”
Alternatively, another one of Mileski’s tenants opted not to pay for a trash service because she said there is a dumpster right behind their house, which neither Mileski nor those tenants pay to use. Since the new program has been implemented, Kelly said it has been “very successful.”
Tips for complying with the local trash ordinance:
Don’t take trash to the curb before 7 p.m. the day before pick-up.
If a special pick-up is needed, such as a couch or mattress, call your provider several days in advance of your assigned pick-up date to ensure proper removal.
Increase the amount of trash removal if it is currently inadequate. Unlimited service is available.
Make sure that tenants and landlords have a clear understanding of trash responsibilities.
Make sure that an active trash service is always in place with your provider.
Make sure that all trash is stored in a trashcan with a tight-fitting lid.
Make sure that there are enough trash containers available to store all trash.
Large trash totes with attached lids and wheels allow for more storage and easier transport.
Pick up loose litter from the tree lawn, yard, driveway and porch.
Know your assigned trash pick-up day.
Do not allow trash, furniture, litter or empty containers to remain on the lawn for more than 24 hours.
Retrieve empty trash and recycling containers the same as pick-up.
–Kyle Kelly, City of Kent Public Health Sanitarian
Kent chose this specific program with the goals to reduce the total number of solid waste nuisances in the city and the amount of time the nuisance exists as well as to offset some of the costs associated with enforcing the local trash ordinance, Kelly said.
“We believe that properties that do not comply with the ordinance should assist in funding the enforcement program versus the average taxpayer,” Kelly said.
By complying with the ordinance, Kelly said many positive outcomes can occur such as trash violations and fines are avoided, relationships are improved with neighbors, roommates and landlords, environmental health concerns are reduced and the community overall is improved.