The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

February 5, 2014

Conneaut council could revisit trash hauling law

Staff Writer

CONNEAUT — Another look at revisions to Conneaut’s trash-hauling laws could be part of City Council’s renewed attack on housing blight.

At Monday’s work session, Councilman-at-large Jon Arcaro suggested the city dust off portions of the ordinance rejected in 2013 because of a few controversial parts. Items that drew objections in the past, such as contracting with one trash collector for the entire city and municipal processing of bills, could be omitted, Arcaro said.

“The previous council was on the right track,” he said. “(The defeated ordinance) didn’t have to go down in its entirety. The problem was the single-hauler.”

There was plenty of good things in the proposal that would help the city tackle health and sanitation issues across town, Arcaro said. A municipal ordinance would turn the matter over to City Hall, relieving the health department of enforcement duties, he said.

“It would take the rules of the health department and put it in ordinance form because we have the power to enforce,” Arcaro said.

Upgrades to the trash laws were much debated last year before the measure was ultimately rejected, primarily because of council concerns over contracting with one company for all residential collection. Such a move would hurt several small businesses and take away customers’ freedom of choice, opponents said at the time.

Much of Monday’s meeting was devoted to ways to improve the appearance of the community, an initiative started by the previous council. Members also talked about:

• Installing gates that would restrict traffic on West Jackson Street and a small section of Woodworth Road near the Pittsburgh and Conneaut Dock Co. because of chronic illegal dumping.

“We have to find a way to stop this,” said Council President Nicholas Church. “This has been going on way too long.”

Council will talk with businesses that could be impacted by the move before proceeding via committee meetings.

• A crackdown on large furniture and appliances — such as recliners, sofas and refrigerators — found on some open front porches in the city. Council would merely need to amend the building/housing code to allow enforcement of so-called unsightly property, said Law Director Carly Prather.

• Criminal penalties for people who repeatedly ignore the city’s tall grass/weed ordinance. Some scofflaws were cited into court last year, Prather said.

Typically, if city crews mow property of flagrant offenders, a bill is submitted for the effort. However, the bill is often ignored, as is the fee that is then applied to property taxes, officials said.

The city doesn’t have the manpower to devote to private yard care, said Church, who suggested the harsher penalties.

“We can’t afford, with just nine (Public Works) employees, to be cutting peoples’ lawns,” he said. “I just want to make sure we’ve got everything tied up and ready to go come springtime.”

• The now-defunct municipal skate park on Jefferson Street could be transformed into a basketball court. The skate park was permanently closed late last year because of equipment maintenance problems and crime complaints in the area.