6/15/22: YOU WILL NOT BE FINED FOR LEAVING YOUR TRASH OR RECYCLING CAN ROADSIDE FOR MORE THAN 24 HOURS AFTER COLLECTION . . . AND OTHER CLARIFICATIONS OF THE SOLID WASTE ORDINANCE CHANGES.  

One of the serial offenders.

The revisions to the Southern Shores solid waste ordinance adopted by the Town Council April 5 do not require residents to place their trash and recycling receptables in the street right-of-way only within 24 hours of collection and to remove them by midnight after collection.  

Just as the former Town Code section (26-5) that deals with placement and maintenance of receptables did, the revised ordinance recommends this timing for rollout and rollback—using the verb “should,” not “shall”—it does not mandate it. Residents and rental property owners are not at risk of being cited for a Code violation if they or their renters put their cans on the roadside too soon or leave them out too long.

We have not previously delved into the changes that the Town Council made to Chapter 26, the solid waste ordinance, and that the Town newsletter has highlighted for months now. (See https://library.municode.com/nc/southern_shores/ordinances/code_of_ordinances?nodeId=1144846. The changes have not been codified yet.)

But, after hearing worried and/or confused residents express concern over being cited for a violation for rollback failure, we decided to step in and clarify the “should-shall” of receptacle etiquette.

The intent of Town Code Amendment 22-02, which the Town Council adopted unanimously at its April regular meeting without holding a public hearing—as it is legally entitled to do—is 1) to prevent roadside litter caused by trash and recycling receptacle overflow and by receptacles without lids and 2) to prevent receptacles from becoming road obstructions. It is not to punish residents for leaving their trash or recycling cans out too long, according to some people’s sense of aesthetics, although it would rather you did not.

The following changes made by the Town Council to Chapter 26 are mandatory requirements:

*Trash and recycling receptables shall be placed within the street right-of-way within three feet—an increase from two feet in the former ordinance—of the pavement, and three feet of clearance—a decrease from four feet—shall be left around the containers.

(If you place the receptacle too far from the street, we can assure you that Bay Disposal will not empty it. Too close to the road and it becomes an obstruction.)

*All residential receptacles shall have “fully functional lids that cover the entire receptacle” and “fully functional wheels.”

(This is a new requirement. We strongly support the put-a-lid-on-it movement!)

*Residential units of four bedrooms or fewer that “are offered for vacation rentals” shall have at least three solid waste receptacles—an increase from two in the former ordinance—and two recycling receptacles—an increase from one; and residential units of five or more bedrooms that are offered for vacation rentals shall have at least five trash receptacles—an increase from three—and three recycling receptacles—up from one.

(Having been a rental property owner for more than 30 years, and having family history with the Southern Shores rental business dating back 50 years, we believe these numbers are excessive for many rental houses, and the Town Council should have been more discriminating. The “offending” houses that always have overflowing trash and recycling cans in front of them (see above) are well-known to us seasoned veterans. Requiring all owners of five-bedroom rental houses to have five trash receptacles and three recycling receptacles strikes us as an increase of can clutter. We also believe that the previous number of cans required for four-bedroom or fewer rental houses was more realistic.)   

*Residential occupants shall be responsible for maintaining the roadside pickup area clear of debris and vegetation.  (This is not a new requirement. We just believe it is worth noting.)

Inasmuch as the foregoing are mandatory requirements, they are enforceable and punishable by a civil penalty. Chapter 26 requires the Town to issue the property owner of record a warning citation and subjects the property owner to a fine if the Town must issue subsequent notices of violation. (The ordinance imposes a $50 fine upon first notice after a warning; $100 on second notice; $150 on third notice and for additional violations in a 12-month period.)

TCA 22-02 also specifies that solid waste or recyclable materials that are placed outside of the receptacles will not be collected and that the property owner of record is subject to a civil penalty for such debris, after first receiving a warning of a violation.

While the Town now has stickers available that read either “Trash Only” or “Recycling Only,” and indicate with arrows which side of a receptacle should face the street, residents are not required to affix them to their receptacles.

New Town Code section 26-5(e) states that “every residential receptacle should be labeled with a town issued sticker,” not that it shall be so labeled.

We think the stickers are a good idea for receptacles at rental units, where, inevitably, guests position them backwards on the street. You may pick up the stickers at Town Hall for no cost.

RECYCLING PICKUP ON FRIDAY IS A TERRIBLE IDEA

The only real bone we have to pick with the Town’s solid-waste changes is the shift in the recycling pick-up day from Wednesday to Friday.

There is no worse day for recycling pickup at rental houses, which typically rent from Saturday to Saturday, than Friday. It is well known to us seasoned veterans that renters depart in a semi-conscious whirlwind of activity, putting trash and recycling out at the last minute, if they put them out at all.

I manage both a Friday-to-Friday rental and a Saturday-to-Saturday rental and am not convinced that the new Friday recycling pickup helps me with either.

Only the most organized and fastidious renters will put their recycling out on Thursday night and then only if the “property owner of record” papers the house with notices asking them to do so. And maybe not even then. Even the good-as-gold repeat renters who have been coming to the same cottage for 20 years and leave a lovely message in the logbook may slip up and forget. Renters enjoy every disengaged moment they have until Saturday’s (or Friday’s) frenzy.  

I share with you my experience last Saturday of checking on the 51-year-old, four-bedroom family rental cottage that I now own with my three siblings: I arrived around 10:30 a.m. to find the front door to the house wide open—seriously, the renters were too much in a hurry to close and lock the door—and the trash and recycling cans next to the house, a long driveway’s walk from the roadside.

The trash can had balloons and other party inflatables in it that I burst before I wheeled it down to the road for Monday’s pickup. The recycling can, which I sorted for nonrecyclables, was three-quarters full. Now we have another, but can I reasonably expect the next renters to roll out the previous renter’s recycling?

In all of my years as a rental property owner, I have never known renters to dispose of any disposables except their own, so tomorrow evening, I will be trying to drop by the house unobtrusively to roll out the nearly full recycling can left by last week’s vacationers.

This is not something that my siblings and I can ask our rental company agent to do for us. It never has handled rollout, even when it claimed it did. Being local I know when the agent’s claim that “the housekeepers roll the trash to the road” is simply not true.

Bay Disposal protested in the past that it could not handle both trash and recycling on the same collection day. Clearly, it can. How about double-booking the collector on Monday, so we can rid ourselves of renters’ recyclables two days after they depart, rather than six? A return to the Wednesday pickup would be preferable to what exists now.  

TOWN COUNCIL MEETING JUNE 21: The Town Council will hold a 9 a.m. workshop meeting next Tuesday in the Pitts Center. The agenda and agenda packet have just been posted on the Town website. See https://mccmeetings.blob.core.usgovcloudapi.net/soshoresnc-pubu/MEET-Packet-eb469370e27a44e29dd0054eed601863.pdf.

Included in the Town Manager’s report is an update on seasonal cut-thru traffic.

Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 6/15/22

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