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Commissioners talk solutions to dumping

By ZOË WATKINS - zwatkins@t-g.com
Posted 1/21/23

During the Courthouse and Property Committee meeting Tuesday, several commissioners brought up the issue of areas of excessive trash throughout Bedford County.

“As far as the county goes …

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Commissioners talk solutions to dumping


During the Courthouse and Property Committee meeting Tuesday, several commissioners brought up the issue of areas of excessive trash throughout Bedford County.

“As far as the county goes and zoning, we have nothing available to help with it. But if this County Powers Act goes through, then we can set us up some parameters,” said Commissioner Linda Yockey.

Essentially, the County Powers Act will give county officials power to create nuisance ordinances for the county similar to how municipalities create ordinances.

The act, scheduled for discussion by the Rules and Legislative Committee, was pulled from the agenda during the meeting by Commissioner Greg Vick.

“I don’t that we have the proper information for me to explain that correctly in this environment,” said Vick. The item will be discussed at a later time. 

Some credited the holiday and the convenience centers’ holiday hours for why the trash problem seems so bad, but others said it’s also been an ongoing problem.

Commissioner Diane Neeley talked about driving down Fly Road and Sims Springs Road, which have been notoriously trashed and become dumping grounds.

“There’s no way to know where it came from, who’s throwing it out, how it got there, but it is a mess,” she said. “Furniture, building supplies, dead animals, parts of tires. You name it and it’s back there. It’s just plain garbage.”

Neeley described the area as wooded and swamp-like on Fly Road. “It’s not really a Powers Act problem; it is just garbage,” said Neeley.

According to zoning director Chris White, people are dumping trash on private property, so the county does not have any powers to go on private property and do some sort of clean-up. The county also does not have a property maintenance code.

“So, in order to zoning to have any jurisdiction over trash, we have to adopt the property maintenance code, which means we have to hold property owners accountable for the maintenance of their property,” said White. “Whether or not we would have to first pass the County Powers Act, you might could consider this a nuisance ordinance.”

The county could also declare that a piece of property presents a danger to public safety and health and give property owners 60 days—for example—to clean it up. However, if they don’t, then the responsibility falls into the county’s hands to clean the property.

Going down this path would be costly, especially since there are “dump” areas across the county. “You’re going to have to pay for the clean-up, the equipment, to put it in the dump, attorneys...It’s an expensive endeavor,” said White.

Commissioner Drew Hooker suggested having the Law Enforcement Committee discuss solutions as well.

Commissioner Eric Maddox suggested expanding convenience center hours. “There’s no excuse for dumping trash on the side of the road or on anybody’s property, but I think the more convenient we can make that for the people, maybe they’ll think twice about it,” he said.

Mayor Chad Graham said they’ve invested somewhere in the ballpark of $2 million for new high-unit compactors at the centers, which especially helped with furniture disposal. They also expanded hours to six days a week for the county’s three busiest locations (El Bethel, Tollgate, and Unionville). “There’s still work to be done...and keep in mind we’re growing at a fast clip,” said Graham.

Graham said they’re also looking at adding a convenience center in the U.S. 231 South area.