October 21, 2021

City OKs garbage, lawn care policies

Cortland County Seal

The Cortland Common Council unanimously approved changes Tuesday night in its trash removal and yard maintenance policies intended to speed code enforcement and bring repeat violators into compliance.

The policy shift is similar to one made in January to sidewalk snow removal enforcement. Before January, code officials would send citations by certified mail to violators, which could set back enforcement by two weeks. After Jan. 21, code officials began contacting property owners directly, or posting citations on their properties.

Now city officials will apply the same strategy to trash removal and yard maintenance, said Capt. Michael Tennant, the city’s interim director of code enforcement. TenKate told aldermen before the vote that the city had several property owners who effectively used the city as its trash removal service, by refusing to comply with code violations, and waiting for the city to clean up the trash.

Enforcement was not aggressive enough, he argued.

“There’s no disincentive to that behavior under the current system,” TenKate said.

Aldermen compared the idea favorably to the change in snow-removal enforcement.

“It’s significant enough that it might make people pay attention or obey,” said Alderman Troy Beckwith (D-7th Ward).

“It makes a lot of sense, and I really appreciate the way you’re organizing things over there,” said Kathryn Silliman (D-2nd Ward).

“I say we give it a shot,” said Bruce Tytler (D-3rd Ward).

As with the change to snow removal policy, the new approach to garbage removal and lawn care enforcement will not likely result in fines for first-time violators, TenKate said. If new offenders take immediate action to address code violations, code officials will likely grant requests to waive the initial citations. Code officials will also have discretion to issue warnings.