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Huntington Getting Tough On Trash

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By JAMES E. CASTO

For The State Journal

Huntington residents with junk on their front porch or trash in their yard can't say they haven't been warned. They've been told that if they don't clean up their property they risk a hefty fine or maybe even a stretch behind bars.

On March 25, City Council approved an ordinance that prohibits residents from using their porches or yards to store upholstered furniture, mattresses and other items not intended for outdoor use. The ordinance also bans the outdoor storage of building materials unless they're for use in a project that's been issued a city building permit. Those found guilty of violating the ordinance face fines of up to $500, jail terms of up to 30 days or both. The ordinance will take effect July 1.

"Our thought is that people will have ample opportunity to comply," said Mayor Steve Williams.

Williams said that beginning this summer the city intends to take a zero-tolerance policy regarding not only violations of the new ordinance but also infractions of long-standing ordinances regarding uncut grass and weeds, debris and litter.

This means that residents – and business owners as well – now have 90 days to clean up their property before the city starts its get-tough policy. Williams said city crews will be available to help them in that task by cutting back weeds and brush in alleys, picking up litter and trash and hauling away bulky items that have been placed at the curb for disposal. During the cleanup the city landfill on South High Street will accept old tires, brush and bulky items.

Williams said it's his hope that neighborhood groups, churches and civic organizations will organize work parties during the cleanup. 

Council also approved a resolution that authorizes Williams to apply for a $28,000 federal Justice Assistance Grant to hire a compliance officer to inspect properties and issue citations. The position is proposed to fall under the Police Department, not the Division of Inspections and Compliance.