Editorial: Tightening up Dalton's rubbish ordinance is needed, but residents must do their part to clean up the city

There’s a small, homemade sign sitting on a sliver of grass on a Dalton street that’s notorious for being a dumping site for seemingly countless items: bags of trash, stacks of cardboard boxes, piles of construction waste and even an empty beer keg.

The handwritten sign makes a simple plea: “No dumping. Please.”

Many Dalton residents sympathize with the homeowner’s request as the spotlight has once again been shined on the city’s curb appeal. Several parts of the city have become, or continue to be, unsightly dumping grounds for trash both by neighbors and from people venturing in from outside of the city to avoid landfill tipping fees. Now, officials are once again trying to crack down on the dumping of trash, and in turn, attempting to beautify the city.

The Dalton City Council has a work session on Wednesday at noon to discuss a draft refuse collection ordinance. The meeting, which is open to the public, is at the Public Works Department at 535 Elm St. The City Council is expected to have the first of two readings on the new law at its Monday, June 1, meeting at Dalton City Hall.

The draft ordinance, which is a shade under 13,000 words, covers the gamut. What can be picked up, what won’t be picked up, how waste should be transported, fines for violating the law, etc. There are a number of updated sections.

We are hopeful the new refuse collection law will lead to a cleaner, more attractive community. We thank city officials and the Public Works Department for their efforts. But even the strictest law with stringent enforcement is pointless without the cooperation of city residents.

Simply put, adults must be adults and follow the law.

Consider the cardboard box conundrum. The city will pick up cardboard boxes through its recycling program, as long as the boxes are broken down and placed curbside in the blue recycling bin. That’s a win-win since those boxes will be remade into other products and not end up in a landfill.

The city will not, however, pick up cardboard boxes that haven’t been broken down. We still see far too many cardboard boxes left outside — often exposed to the elements and left a soggy mess — because people are too lazy to take a few minutes to break the boxes down and place them in a recycling bin.

If the law does not allow mattresses to be picked up, don’t set them out on the curb. If the city won’t haul off your construction debris from a bathroom remodel, then rent a dumpster instead of dumping the waste in an empty lot down the street.

City officials want to hear your thoughts on the proposed refuse collection law. You can contact the Public Works Department at (706) 278-7077. Contact information for the mayor and city council can be found at www.cityofdalton-ga.gov.

We hope you take the time to (respectfully) voice your opinion. If you have time, we encourage you to attend Wednesday’s work session and Monday’s meeting.

Solving the city’s curb appeal problem will take a community-wide effort. As a result, we hope to see fewer unsightly trash piles — and fewer homemade signs begging people not to dump trash in their yards.

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