Memo-10-13-2015- Item 15

MEMO TO:           Mayor Barber and Board of Commissioners

FROM:                  Frank A. Rush, Jr., Town Manager

SUBJECT:           Ordinance Amending Chapter 15 – Solid Waste Management - of the Code of Ordinances (Comprehensive Review)

As part of the Town’s ongoing comprehensive review of all Town ordinances, the Board of Commissioners is scheduled to consider proposed amendments to Chapter 15 – Solid Waste Management - of the Code of Ordinances at the October 13 meeting.  Solid Waste Management is currently codified as Chapter 15, but would be renumbered as Chapter 13 if adopted as presented.  

As you know, the Town has been undertaking a comprehensive process that is intended to review, clarify, and ideally condense and simplify the entire Code of Ordinances of the Town of Emerald Isle.  The Town is now more than 58 years old, and numerous ordinance amendments have been made over the years with input by many different groups and individuals, all likely with good intentions, and sometimes there are unintended impacts on or conflicts with other ordinance provisions.  State law and common practice also change over time, and this sometimes leads to out of date provisions or confusion.  In other cases, it may be helpful for the Town to critically ask itself if it really needs certain ordinance provisions, and also if new policies are warranted.

As discussed previously, my goal has been for Town staff and me to complete a comprehensive review of all Town ordinances with a critical eye.  During this review, conflicting or confusing provisions are being targeted for clarification, unnecessary provisions are being targeted for elimination, and in some cases out of date or un-enforced provisions are being targeted for elimination.  The Board previously reviewed and approved comprehensive amendments to the Town Charter and all other chapters in the Code of Ordinances, and Chapter 15 is the final chapter to be reviewed as part of this process.

The attached ordinance amendment was drafted by me, and has been reviewed by Town Attorney Richard Stanley and Public Works Director Artie Dunn.  The attached ordinance amendment includes a clean version of the proposed new Chapter 13, and I have also attached a separate version using the underline and strikethrough features to show the specific differences in the proposed ordinance amendment.  Overall, the proposed new Chapter 13 is shorter and simpler than the current solid waste management provisions, and does not include any significant substantive changes.  The most notable changes are highlighted below:

  • Chapter 15 – Solid Waste Management – is renumbered as Chapter 13 to maintain consistent numbering of the chapters in the Code of Ordinances.
  • Various definitions have been tweaked to reflect current terminology used by town staff.  Most notably, the term “refuse” has been replaced with references to “garbage”.
  • The ordinance clarifies that the town’s solid waste services are provided for developed residential properties only, and that business locations are required to coordinate their own solid waste collection and disposal services. 
  • The penalties for violations have been specified in each section of Chapter 13.
  • The ordinance deletes certain provisions from the new Chapter 13 that address business locations that do not provide for the collection and disposal of solid waste, however, similar procedures are already included in Chapter 9 – Nuisance Abatement.  Additionally, there are provisions in sections 13-3 and 13-4 (container requirements) that could also be enforced to address these situations.  (I don’t recall any problems of this nature during my tenure as Town Manager.)
  • The required container volumes have not changed in the new Chapter 13.  The penalty for insufficient containment capacity remains a $100 civil penalty, but the ordinance retains the ability of the Town Manager to dismiss the penalty if sufficient containers are provided.  In practice, nearly everyone complies voluntarily when notified by the Town, and it is extremely rare that someone would receive a civil citation.
  • Responsibility for garbage and recycling containers remains with the residential property owner.  The ordinance also clarifies that condominium complexes, townhouse complexes, and multi-family locations are required to provide dumpsters and central recycling collection stations if the complex can not be served with typical roll-out garbage and recycling containers.
  • The ordinance retains the requirement that garbage and recycling containers be permanently stored at least 30 feet from the adjacent street right of way, and does not change the timeframe that containers may be placed at the curbside (no earlier than 12 noon the day before collection and no later than 9 am the day after collection).  The penalty for a violation of these provisions has been increased from $25 to $50, solely due to the fact that there are no other Town civil penalties less than $50.  In practice, it is extremely rare that a property owner would receive a civil citation for these violations, as the Town always attempts to resolve these issues with communication and cooperation.  
  • Provisions regarding the accumulation of solid waste on the property have been simplified, and make it clear that failure to properly contain garbage and recyclables is considered to be littering.  The ordinance requires the immediate removal of said solid waste, and may also result in a civil penalty for littering.  Additionally, there are provisions in Chapter 9 – Nuisance Abatement that can be used to address these situations, and there are also provisions in Chapter 11 – Transportation that apply to the intentional or unintentional placement of solid waste on public streets, sidewalks, bicycle paths, and other public facilities.
  • The ordinance clarifies that the Town’s annual solid waste fee is intended to cover the Town’s costs for all solid waste services (including collection, removal, and disposal) outlined in Chapter 13, and that only developed residential properties are liable for the annual solid waste fee.

I look forward to discussing the attached ordinance amendment with the Board at the October 13 meeting.  If the Board is comfortable with the proposed amendments, the Board may consider adoption at the October 13 meeting.  If the Board would like more time to review the proposed amendments, formal Board action can certainly be delayed until the November meeting or later.        

Once the Board approves a new Chapter 13, the entire Code of Ordinances (not including the Unified Development Ordinance) will have been thoroughly reviewed and updated over the past few years.  I hope that our customers, staff, and elected officials will find the new Code of Ordinances to be simpler, leaner, more user-friendly, and easier-to-understand.  I am pleased to have finally concluded this effort.