WALLINGFORD — The Town Council wants to strengthen local littering laws to impose fines on people who dump household or commercial garbage into public trash receptacles.
The Town Council voted unanimously at an ordinance committee Thursday to advance to a vote of the full council changes to the town’s littering ordinance.
Councilor Jason Zandri first proposed changing the existing ordinance last July. He introduced his proposal at a September ordinance committee meeting.
He said during the meeting that he wanted to address not just roadside litter, but people who place their household trash in town receptacles to avoid paying for trash service.
The Public Works Department had been getting calls that town trash receptacles were full, he said, and people had been seen placing household garbage in the trash cans.
According to state law, it’s an infraction to dump more than one cubic foot of solid waste — roughly half of a 13-gallon kitchen garbage bag — 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.
Wallingford is proposing a fine of $100 for littering 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.
The council also discussed the proposed ordinance changes at an ordinance committee meeting in December. Councilor Craig Fishbein asked during the meeting who was empowered to go through trash bags dumped in town receptacles to identify the person.
Town Corporation Counsel Janis M. Small replied that once the trash was deposited, it belongs to the town. Public Works would ask the police to go through the trash, unless someone else was designated.
During February’s ordinance committee meeting, Small said she would have a draft of the updated ordinance at the next meeting, which she shared in March.
Small shared a revised draft of the updated ordinance at Thursday’s committee meeting.
Recently, Zandri noticed that people had deposited trash into box planters meant for town beautification along North Main Street.
Zandri observed it wasn’t just coffee cups, but that a lot of it appears to be household trash, including a stack of discarded newspapers.