Lafayette supervisors consider dumping and litter ordinance – again
READ-IN: Board will hold a public hearing on the issue July 23 at 6 p.m.
By Errol Castens
Daily Journal Oxford Bureau
OXFORD — Some two dozen residents crowded into a work session of the Lafayette County Board of Supervisors to weigh in on a proposed unauthorized dumping and litter control ordinance.
As proposed, the 12-page local legislation would define, set penalties and establish enforcement and appeal procedures for littering, dumping and threats to public health and safety.
At least one resident chided authorities at several levels for poor enforcement of existing laws against litter.
“The worst case is what most people are doing — just throwing junk out of their cars every day,” said Brian Mundy. Some of his friends from England came to visit, he said, and he gave them a tour of the area in hopes of persuading them to follow him in retiring here.
After seeing the litter on local highways, streets and roads, he said, “They looked at me like I was living in some Third World country.”
Mundy asked how many people were ever fined in Lafayette County for littering.
“Every one that’s been caught,” answered Board President Johnny Morgan.
” How many have been caught?” Mundy demanded.
“None,” Morgan said, adding that people typically don’t litter when anyone is watching.
One new provision in the ordinance is already being enforced. County Solid Waste customers must containerize their garbage at roadside to keep animals out of it, and the bags inside the containers must be tied shut, must not break when lifted and must weigh 35 pounds or less.
Several residents took issue with a requirement in the proposed ordinance that citizen complaints about health and safety hazards include a petition signed by a majority of nearby landowners.
“That, in my case, would be sewerage running from a house to a public pond,” Jere Hoar said. “I couldn’t possibly have gotten a majority of residents to sign a petition.”
In past meetings about the litter and dumping proposal, some residents have said that signing a petition against some violators could invite retribution.
“For the third time, I ask you not to put it off on us,” Lessie Belk said. “The state empowers you to do it on your own power.”
Board attorney David O’Donnell said informants might be required to testify if a case went to court but could well be left unnamed otherwise.
“Admittedly, there are a lot of situations where we don’t need a name,” he said.
District One supervisor Billy Lamb said, “I want a citizen to be able to come in and make a legitimate complaint, but I want to be able to work with both sides to resolve the issue.”
The proposed ordinance has some new teeth. Violating solid waste pickup rules will net fines starting at $25, with a third offense yielding a fine of $100 plus community service. Commercial or large-scale private dumping would be classified as a felony. The county’s solid waste enforcement officer, a hearing officer, the Board of Supervisors and even multiple courts could be involved in enforcement and appeals processes.