County OKs litter ordinance

Published 2:28 pm Thursday, October 25, 2007

By By Lisa Tindell
news editor

The Escambia County Commission on Monday adopted two ordinances dealing with junk and litter in unincorporated areas of the county.
With the ordinances set to go into effect Jan. 1, 2008, residents in outlying areas of the county will be required to make arrangements to clean up their property.
Commissioner Larry White said the ordinances were not perfect, but were a step in the right direction for the county under the home rule passed last year by voters.
Last year, voters gave the commission the authority to enact such ordinances in a referendum made possible by legislative approval of home rule for several counties including Escambia. Home rule allows a county to enact it’s own rules, rather than seek approval from the legislature.
Stokes said the ordinances were drafted to meet current and future needs of the county and the residents.
The first ordinance deals with junk which is defined as old or scrap copper, brass, rope, rags, batteries, paper trash, rubber debris, waste or junked, dismantled or wrecked automobiles, or parts thereof, iron, steel and other old or scrap ferrous or nonferrous material.
Commissioners worked together to draft the ordinance that also will call for assessing fines on property owners who do not comply with the rules in the ordinance.
According to the ordinance, a notice will be provided to a property owner giving them 10 days to take corrective measures removing or otherwise blocking public view of the junk from the premises. If, at the end of the 10 days, the junk has not been removed or properly stored, a citation will be issued assessing fines against the property owner.
In a similar ordinance, the commission approved criteria identifying litter in unincorporated areas of the county.
In the Escambia County litter ordinance, litter is defined as rubbish, refuse, waste material, garbage, dead animals or fowl, offal, paper, glass, cans, bottles, trash, scrap metal, debris or any foreign substance of whatever kind and description, and whether or not it is of value. Also, any agricultural product in its natural state that is unintentionally deposited on a public highway, road, street or public right-of-way shall not be deemed litter.
Rubbish is described as solid wastes, excluding ashes, consisting of both combustible and noncombustible wastes. Combustible rubbish includes paper, rags, cartons, wood, furniture, rubber, plastics, yard trimmings, leaves and similar materials. Noncombustible rubbish includes glass, crockery, metal cans, metal furniture and like materials which will not burn at ordinary incinerator temperatures.
Violations of the litter ordinance will result in a 10-day notice to the property owner. If corrective measures are not taken, the owner will be required to meet with the Escambia County Commission to be notified of action to be taken in the matter. If the Commission determines proper action has not been taken, fines of not more than $150 and administrative fees will be assessed against the property owner.
The ordinance further gives the commission authority to bring action against a property owner who does not comply with notices and warnings issued by the county.
The ordinance states, “in addition to all other remedies available pursuant to this ordinance, in the event that an owner who has been assessed fines and administrative fees for the violation of any provision of this ordinance fails to pay such fines and administrative fees within 30 days of issuance, the officer may, on behalf of the county, bring action in the Circuit Court of Escambia County against the owner…”
A copy of the ordinance is available to the public and can be requested through the Escambia County Commission office.
Sanks said those interested in receiving a copy of the ordinances may call the commission office at 809-0300 or visit the office at the Escambia County Courthouse to request copies of the documents.