City tackling long-term trash piles, large items

City officials are taking a new angle on large items being left on curbs for weeks at a time with a new ordinance.

The proposal, which was approved unanimously by the Winchester Board of Commissioners Tuesday evening, would hold the property owner liable and possibly fined for removal costs of large items.

Currently, property owners or tenants are required to call Winchester Municipal Utilities to schedule a pick up of large items, Winchester City Manager Matt Belcher said.

While that would not change, property owners would now have 24 hours to alleviate the situation before facing possible fines or costs.

“WMU currently requires the property owner to call for these things to be picked up,” Belcher said. “If the property owner or tenant does not call and no one complains, the items tend to sit there.”

The response through code enforcement is driven by complaints, he said.

Under the new ordinance, code enforcement officers would be required to go out, inspect the area of the complaint and, if warranted, issue a 24-hour notice for the problem to be cleaned up. If it is not removed, WMU or Public Works employees would remove the items, but the property owner could be subject to paying the costs involved and fines.

City Commissioner Shannon Cox said he gets more complaints about code enforcement than anything else. He said he has filed complaints about items left on curbs which remained for weeks afterward.

“No one gets out and looks for this stuff,” he said. “The entire way we do code enforcement has to change if we’re going to have it. We’re spending $100,000 a year to get $100 worth of work done.”

Belcher agreed the complaint-based process has not been working.

Some of the problem may be a simple lack of awareness.

“A lot of people don’t realize they’re supposed to call,” City Commissioner Kitty Strode said.

Earlier in the meeting, the commission deferred action on the first reading of an amended sign ordinance with the county. While the amended ordinance was intended to comply with a U.S. Supreme Court ruling about being content-neutral, there are other changes within the ordinance, Winchester Mayor Ed Burtner said.

To allow more time for discussion, the matter was moved to the 4:30 p.m. June 5 agenda, which is the city’s regular workshop session.

In other action, the commissioners:

—approved a proclamation making June 9, 2018, Beer Cheese Festival Day.

— approved three street closure requests for public events

— approved a lease with the Winchester-Clark County Farmers’ Market for use of sidewalks and Depot Street for the  market.

— discussed an ordinance to allow outside dining within city limits and approved seeking requests for proposals for a linear park in downtown Winchester.

— appointed Kriss Lowry as grant administrator for the Lincoln Street redevelopment project and approved seven related resolutions.

— approved budgeted funds for the nursing home ombudsman agency

— approved a financial agreement between Winchester Fire-EMS and Kentucky Bank for an ambulance remount.

— approved the transfer of $50,000 from Beer Cheese Festival Funds to the downtown development investment fund.

— approved a concessions agreement for the Rock the Block concert series.

— accepted the resignations of firefighter III/EMT Tiason Lockridge and part-time paramedic Scottie Bennett.

— promoted Laura Poe from finance clerk to license clerk.

— transferred Teresa Henry form code enforcement to purchasing officer.

— hired Cody L. Epperson as firefighter I and Dallas S. Gross as firefighter I/EMT.

About Fred Petke

Fred Petke is a reporter for The Winchester Sun, the Jessamine Journal and the State Journal. His beats include cops, courts, fire, public records, city and county government and other news. To contact Fred, email fred.petke@bluegrassnewsmedia.com or call 859-759-0051.

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