Murfreesboro cracks down on debris

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 26, 2004

MURFREESBORO – &uot;It’s got to stop!&uot;

That’s the message Gene Byrd Public Works Director for the Town of Murfreesboro, relayed to town council members here Tuesday as he discussed a growing concern about drainage problems resulting from residents placing yard debris and grass trimmings in the street and adjacent drainage ditches.

&uot;This is becoming a major problem,&uot; he said, &uot;The drains and ditches are grossly clogged because people are continuing to put their yard trimmings and debris in the street and in the ditches. We need to do something.&uot;

In an open discussion, Murfreesboro Mayor Ben McLean submitted knowledge of an existing ordinance regarding the placement of yard debris and other vegetative trimmings and petitioned the council for potential methods of enforcing it.

&uot;Perhaps we can find out where the problem areas are and begin addressing the problem, one ditch at a time,&uot; he said.

His comments were supported by Byrd who added that the town would likely have to evaluate whether the problem areas fell on private property or within the jurisdiction of the town or state.

The possibility of issuing a warning to those in violation of the ordinance as a means of helping to enforce it was also offered in light of a solution to the matter.

&uot;Part of the problem is that people have been doing this a long time,&uot; said Town Attorney Bob E. Lee. &uot;Perhaps issuing a warning first and then serving them with a fine if they don’t comply would be an effective way of dealing with this situation,&uot;

McLean agreed, adding that maybe the town could send out blanket notices stating action would indeed be taken against any violators. &uot;It seems to me that if we already have an ordinance in place, all we need to do is enforce it,&uot; he said.

&uot;Some four or five years ago, the town employed that practice,&uot; said Byrd. &uot;That method was effective last time, but I think over time people have gotten slack and need to be reminded because this is causing a lot of problems.&uot;

Town Administrator Molly Eubank explained that aside from clogging the storm drains, the problems caused by excessive rain under those circumstances often lead to flooding. &uot;What many people don’t realize is that although the debris from their yards may not be causing them to experience problems with flooding, their neighbor down the road may be suffering as a result of their actions,&uot; she said.

Mayor McLean assigned Byrd, Eubank and council members Wayne Brown and Billy Theodorakis to a committee to investigate the situation and directed them to locate the problem areas, finding out what the problems were so they could be effectively addressed.

&uot;This is really a matter of administrative policy, so it doesn’t require any action on behalf of the council, but if we coordinate efforts with the various departments, our town lawyer and the council, maybe we can eliminate this problem.&uot;

The town is currently in the process of putting together notices in an effort to inform each household of its intent to pursue the enforcement of the existing ordinance. No further information is available at this time.