Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Let's (Not) Talk Trash

POTTSTOWN -- With no comment or discussion, borough council Monday night unanimously authorized the advertisement of a new ordinance that will make property owners responsible for cleaning up the litter dropped in front of their homes.

As I reported in the April 24 edition of The Mercury, the ordinance is based on a Massachusetts law and, at the time it was first publicly broached, generated quite a bit of discussion.

Back then, Borough Manager Jason Bobst told council the law is necessary because the borough has been told time and time again by district judges that under current ordinance, unless a person is witnessed littering, they can’t be prosecuted for it.

Under the new proposal, property owners would be responsible for cleaning up in front of their properties; a problem highlighted in a more recent Mercury report, about a High Street property owned by state Rep. Marcy Toepel.

“That would mean that regardless of how it got there, the property owner would be responsible for keeping the property clean of trash,” is how Mayor Bonnie Heath explained it in April.

Also at the time, Councilwoman Maureen Allen expressed concerns because, she said, some parts of town have more of a litter problem than others. "Why are we always falling back on the property owners?" she asked in April.

Also at the time, Councilman Jody Rhoads warned that if people are made responsible for trash in the alleys dropped by trash collectors, "that's going to be a bad situation."

But Council Vice President Mark Gibson, who each year is involved with borough-wide clean-ups, and Councilman Joseph Kirkland both supported the measure in April; particularly after Bobst said the worst problem in town is with rental properties and tenants leaving and leaving their stuff behind when they move out, to the point where "it looks like their living room threw up in the alley."

Borough  Solicitor Charles D. Garner Jr. was instructed to draft an ordinance in April, but there has been no public discussion of it since then (that I can recall). In fact, not a word was said about it at Monday's meeting, other than the vote itself.

It remains unclear, therefore, what the provisions are, how fines, if any would work, or any of the particulars.

I guess this must be one of those times when it pays to read The Mercury legal notices and keep an eye out for it there, as, in all likelihood, it will come up for a vote next month.

* * *

In other garbage-related news, council also announced that three companies submitted bids for a new trash contract for the borough. And although they have been opened, they have not yet been tabulated.

The three companies that bid are Waste Management, Mascaro & Sons, which currently provides the service, and A.J. Blosenski Inc. The bid will be awarded during a special council meeting, scheduled for Monday, Nov. 28, when the 2012 budget will also be discussed in detail.

The last contract kept trash costs the same throughout all three years of the pact. The results of this bid are likely to have a large impact on the 2012 budget, and any increase will show up in your trash/water bill.


  1. It ALWAYS pays to read the legal notices in The Mercury. Certainly the legal advertisers hope so.

    Joe Zlomek, Managing Editor
    The Sanatoga Post