WALLINGFORD — People can now be fined up to $1,000 each time they dump household or commercial garbage into public trash receptacles.
The Town Council voted unanimously June 8 to add fines for garbage dumping to the existing laws about littering.
The changes were proposed by Councilor Jason Zandri last fall after he observed large amounts of household trash dumped in public receptacles in town.
The council discussed the proposed changes at ordinance committee meetings in December 2020 and February.
The council voted at an ordinance committee in April to advance to a vote of the full council the changes proposed to the town's littering ordinance.
Zandri said during the June 8 meeting that he doesn’t want to discourage people from putting trash into the proper receptacle — “We would much rather have it there than out on the ground,” he said — but it becomes a problem when people leave tall kitchen trash bags in the downtown area and at town parks.
“This is a burden to all the taxpayers, whether it is being overused or misused, and that was really the effort behind all of this,” he said. “There are people that are simply not maintaining their own personal responsibility for getting rid of their trash, and are putting it on the backs of the town through Public Works, and the expense and cost of that, (and) … when we bring it to the transfer station, we pay for that.”
The changes increase the fine for littering and add language around dumping.
Dumping is now defined as discarding more than one cubic foot of litter or furniture, garbage bags or loose contents, automobiles or car parts, large appliances, tires or other bulky waste at a location with the intent to leave it indefinitely, or not removing it within 45 days.
Placing more than one cubic foot of private or commercial waste in a public or private trash receptacle is considered dumping.
Law enforcement is in charge of investigating and issuing violation notices. A notice can be contested through a hearing not later than 10 days after the notice is mailed.
According to state law, it's an infraction to dump more than one cubic foot of solid waste at one time in a garbage container without the owner's permission.
A local ordinance may allow for a fine up to $1,000 per violation, under state law.
Town Corporation Counsel Janis M. Small made the revisions to the existing ordinance. Small’s research included how to measure one cubic foot — it’s roughly half of a 13-gallon kitchen garbage bag.
Under the revised ordinance, a fine of $100 for littering would be imposed for the first offense and $200 for the second and each additional offense. Each day the violation continues would be considered a separate offense.
Placing a total volume of more than one cubic foot of materials into a public receptacle would be $200 for the first offense and $300 for each additional offense.
The fine for dumping would be $500 for the first offense and $1,000 for the second and each additional offense.