ASHTABULA — It’s that time of year when police and other city officials are getting calls about junk cars and other code violations that can bring blight on a neighborhood.
City Manager Jim Timonere said keeping up with those concerns is a necessary and time-consuming project, but he encourages citizens to report violations by calling 440-992-7118.
City officials will try to address the problem that same day.
“We are making a concerted effort to enforce city policy,” Police Chief Robert Stell said. “We are stepping up enforcement on junk cars, trash, etc.”
The ordinance states the city prohibits junk or not properly licensed vehicles to be placed, located or stored. Those found in violation will be cited and fined and given notice to remove the vehicles or the city can and will remove the vehicle for them. All fees or charges assessed will be incurred by the vehicle’s owner.
The city gives violators three days to clean it up.
Strict enforcement started last week with police issuing 23 citations for citizens parking in tree lawns and front yards, as well as having junk cars.
“We have towed quite a few vehicles,” Timonere said at Monday night’s virtual City Council meeting.
Stell said police officers are the eyes and ears of the community as they patrol neighborhoods daily.
“When we see violations, we make it a point to report it to the Planning and Zoning Department,” he said. “We are able to help them out in this way.”
Springtime also means the start of lawn mowing season and city ordinance states everyone should periodically cut and dispose of all weeds and grass, ensuring no weeds, vines, grasses or other vegetative growth exceeds eight inches.
If residents fail to comply, the city will mow the grass at a fee of $150 per hour with a minimum charge of $150, according to the ordinance. In addition, violators must pay an administrative fee of $250, and for subsequent cutting within a growing season, $500.
City Council President John Roskovics said this is an important issue for council.
“We really feel that by enforcing our current codes and enhancing them to make them more effective we can make a noticeable impact,” he said. “This has to be a main priority.”
City officials also remind residents the city provides one pick-up per week of household trash with a limit of six bags and two containers. The containers should be water-tight, have handles and a lid. Containers can not be more than 32 gallons, according to the city’s website.
Ward 1 and 2 residents were given new, black garbage carts, as well as a blue and yellow recycling cart in the fall of 2018. Any garbage placed outside the black containers in Wards 1 and 2 will not be removed. Residences where bags are not removed week after week because of excessiveness will be asked to buy an additional cart at a $10 per month charge.
Any unusual trash or household items are not included in the regular rates for trash collection. Large items may be removed by the Sanitation Department for an additional charge, Timonere said.
If the Sanitation Department workers see large items or waste other than normal household trash set out in a resident’s tree lawn, they will call the city’s code enforcement officer. He will then knock on the door and tell the resident about the extra charge for such items. If the resident chooses, he or she can transport the items to the department’s West 24th Street site.
After the code enforcement officer gives residents a designated time period to either remove the items on their own or arrange for city crews to do so at a minimal charge, sanitation workers will stop and pick it up, but the resident could be cited with a third-degree misdemeanor and fined $250 for littering or depositing trash or junk on tree lawns, which are public property, according to city ordinance.
In addition, the resident will be billed for the trash pick-up service — and charged an amount larger than it would have cost to call and make an arrangement with the city, according to the city’s Sanitation Department.
Under the correct procedure, a resident should call sanitation and ask a crew member how much it will cost to haul off the item. If the resident requests, a crew member will go to the house and look at the items. The crew will call back, provide a price for pick up and the resident must pay in advance via telephone or by going to the West 24th Street office.
City officials urge residents to bring the items to its site at 501 W. 24th St., where they will weigh it and charge a minimum of $12 for up to 200 pounds.
To contact the city’s Sanitation Department, call 440-993-8101.
For more information and a list of regular trash pick up days, visit the city’s website www.cityofashtabula.com.