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Ordinance Requiring Richfield Residents to Conceal Garbage Containers Fails to Pass

Although the Richfield City Council unanimously passed the first reading of the ordinance a few weeks ago, council members’ research at its feasibility stops the ordinance from passing.

“We all have garbage cans. So what?” Richfield resident Ken Severson said Tuesday night. “If the trash is in the back, it’s still ugly.”

After a that would require residents to screen and conceal their garbage receptacles when they are not out for pick-up, a handful of Richfield City Council members had second thoughts Tuesday night and declined to pass it.

The ordinance would make it necessary for residents to store their cans behind the front edge of the house, while also concealing it with some type of screen that was at no more than 50 percent opacity. The goal of the ordinance is to reduce the amount of littering from improperly maintained trash cans, as well as add some “curb appeal” in hopes of increasing property values.

“I agree with the goal of making Richfield a better community,” Severson said. “But I can’t see how this ordinance will achieve [the goal]. “

Another Richfield resident John Kelly—like Severson—was adamantly opposed to the ordinance and conducted his own extensive research to show that an ordinance was unnecessary.

After his own survey of hundreds of Richfield homes, not only did he find that many residents already make efforts to conceal their containers, but—by his calculations—only about 2.2 percent of the homes he included in his study appeared to be disorderly and messy with their trash.

Both Severson and Kelly also mentioned that the large senior citizen population of the city would be hugely affected by the new ordinance, which is something Council Member Pat Elliott agreed with.

After riding his bike through his neighborhood, Elliott said he tried to imagine how many people could make it work. In addition to seniors being burdened, he found that it would be difficult for many residents who “want to be good neighbors” to comply due to small lot sizes, which don’t allow room for side storage.

All in all, while Elliott like the idea of the ordinance and believed that concealing cans would improve property values and the look of the city, he would ultimately have to vote against it.

Council Member Fred Wroge appeared to be irritated with many council members’ new position of the ordinance.

“We’ve already voted on this to get it to the second reading [and now members have changed their minds],” he said. “We’re trying to clean up our neighborhoods.”

Elliott and Council Member Sue Sandahl—who also got out into the neighborhoods to see how feasible it would be to implement—said they liked the idea of the ordinance, but the language of it makes it difficult for all to comply. In the end, the measure did not pass, but it will likely be revisited.

The council seemed to be "in the garbage business" Tuesday night, also discussing the possibility of . The city believes using one collector would keep costs low for residents while also reducing wear and tear on the roads and promote sustainability. The council is waiting to move foward with this until it receives more information.

The next regular city council meeting is at 7 p.m. Aug. 9 at .

David Haines July 28, 2011 at 11:52 PM
Isn't there already an ordinance on the books that is similar to this? -Garbage Containers- All garbage cans or containers must be equipped with tight fitting covers. Garbage containers may be placed out next to the street or alley after sunset of the day before garbage collection. Garbage containers and any material not picked up by the garbage hauler must be removed from the street or alley by the end of the collection day. Garbage and recycling containers may be stored alongside or in back of a house or garage. Are we having widespread problems with the current code?
Mike McLean July 29, 2011 at 12:29 PM
Many times government will develop solutions and then seek a problem to fix.
Andrew Lang July 29, 2011 at 02:43 PM
Not the most pressing thing for the city to be wasting its time on. Glad I won't have to shovel around a cheap piece of city-mandated lawn furniture next winter just to hide my garbage cans.

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