No crime (yet) to forget trash cans

Council okays street paving plans, hears plea from church members
Reporter Editor

It won’t be a criminal offense to leave your garbage cans at the curb more than 16 hours just yet.

City council members tabled a motion to do just that Monday evening after the proposed ordinance drew strong criticism from council member Gerri Offield and negative comments from councilman Doug Calame and Mayor Larry Jones.

The council also decided to pave nine streets during 2011 and heard a plea from the pastor, and congregation, of Rising Star Baptist Church, to pave Texas Street, a dirt road which is the only access to the church.

GARBAGE—The ordinance on Monday’s agenda would have prohibited the placement of trash receptacles at the curb before 3 p.m. on days before collection and after 7 p.m. the day of collection.

It would also require trash receptacles to be “plastic containers manufactured for the purpose of receiving normal household or business trash.”

Offield said she had a number of problems with the ordinance.

“Monday is my trash collection day,” she said. “A lot of times they don’t pick up my trash on Monday. Sometimes it’s 11 or 12 on Tuesday. I leave it out until it gets picked up. I’m in violation.”

“We’d be making people go out and buy new trash cans,” she said. “We’re always complaining about ‘unfunded mandates.’ Isn’t this an unfunded mandate?”

“And who is going to enforce this, the police?” she asked.

Calame pointed out the ordinance would affect persons who went on vacation and left cans out. “That’s going to be an imposition on someone (neighbors tending to trash cans),” he said.

Council member Toby Johnson, who has sought some form of trash can ordinance for months, termed the proposal “a very minor piece of how this town needs to be cleaned up.”

DOGS—Jones asked how the ordinance would affect persons who bag leaves and set numerous trash bags out, which are then collected over a period of weeks.

“ What about big boxes that won’t fit in trash cans?” he asked. “The ordinance doesn’t address that.”

“Recently we spent seven days away at a conference,” Jones said. “I set out our trash in garbage bags, they got picked up, there was nothing left at the curb and nobody knew we were gone.”

“It (the proposal) strikes me as a homeowners association rule being codified as a city ordinance,” Jones said.

City Attorney Michelle Lehmkuhl said a violation of the ordinance would be a Class C misdemeanor and could be punishable, by up to a $500 fine.

“That’s per offense and every day would be a separate violation,” she said,

If a violation fell under health and safety laws the fine could be up to $2,000 per offense, she said.

“And, yes, the police department would be the ones to enforce it,” Lehmkuhl said.

Offield, Johnson, and other council members agreed a more stringent enforcement of Rockdale’s leash law could lead to less chances of trash in bags being scattered.

The motion was tabled, pending more study and input from the police chief and animal control officer.

Council members discussed a previous offer from Rockdale’s trash collection contractor to change service to once a week but provide heavy-duty containers for Rockdale customers.

The offer was rejected with the council noting strong support among Rockdale residents to continue twice-per-week collection.

STREETS—Council members agreed to a 2011 street paving project for nine streets, a total of 5,581.33 square yards at a cost of $37,115.87.

Earlier in the meeting Rev. Royal Johnson and more than a dozen members of the Rising Star Baptist Church congregation asked that Texas Street be paved north of Belton.

The church is located just outside the Rockdale city limits on Texas Street.

“The church has been there for 50 years and for 50 years we’ve been waiting for something to occur,” he said.

A new sanctuary is being built, he noted. “Rising Star gives back to the city,” he said. “It’s an asset. We bring people to town with large events and fill up hotels and restaurants. Our singers and dancers are happy to perform at community events.”

Also, Metcalf Street resident L. C. Richards asked for that street to be included in the 2011 paving project.

Metcalf is included in the 2011 paving list while Texas is not. (See list, front page.)

In other business, council members:

• Directed Knauf and Lehmkuhl to develop criteria, policies and procedures to work with owners of declining property.

• Tabled a panhandling ordinance after Police Chief Thomas Harris said it would not address current panhandling problems.

• Gave second reading approval to an ordinance abandoning an unused section of Roberts Street.

• Interviewed three candidates for a vacancy on the Municipal Development District ( MDD) board.

• Established the new Operation First Impression, a joint task force with the MDD, and named council members Allan Miller and Joyce Dalley as the city’s representatives.

2011 street paving

• Coulter, from Murray to Hillyer.

• Darrell, from Hillyer to end.

• Metcalf, from Baxter to end.

• Miller, from Highland to end.

• White, from Oak to Mulberry.

• Green, from Hamilton to Laura.

• Broadnax, from Williams to end.

• Stokes, from Williams to end.

• Mulberry, from First to Second.

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