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Can you legislate beauty?

October 15, 2012
By KATIE SCHWENDEMAN - Staff Writer ( , Morning Journal News

EAST PALESTINE - Village Council members are for improving the beauty of East Palestine but exactly how to do that is in question.

Councilman Fran Figley said he pursued a seat on council for the sole purpose of "sprucing it up" in order to attract more people to town, and is disappointed with the way some residents are treating their own properties.

He believes the village should have more authority and be able to impose a small fine for things such as residents not removing their garbage containers from the sidewalk once garbage has been picked up, or not mowing their grass.

But others on council, including Ellen Beagle and Alan Cohen, aren't in favor of doing so.

"You can legislate the heck out of this stuff but you have to have the people that want to do that. I don't like having garbage in my front yard, that's why it's not there," Beagle said.

Village Manager Pete Monteleone said a small fine is not enforceable other than taking the resident to court, which in the long run costs more money for the village.

"It's like a parking ticket. You have difficulty, really, to prosecute them. They just choose not to pay and then it's not cost-effective to take them to court," he said.

Mayor Margo Zuch said the problem of garbage containers being kept on the sidewalk for weeks at a time has been around for years.

"There was some question on how to enforce this," she said.

Figley suggested a fine be set at $75 for not putting a garbage container away for one day.

But Beagle argued that enforcing all the things Figley is recommending and has recommended in prior council meetings would mean the enlargement of the police force.

"We're going to have to enlarge the police department if we are going to have them enforce all the things we've talked about ... We can't mandate" everything, she said.

Figley countered that officers wouldn't be needed since he believed a fine would be enough of a deterrent and explained that if the problem is "bothering" 50 percent of the people in town then it's council's job to find a solution.

"I don't think you can start mandating to a level where you are micromanaging the town. It's better to start educating the people. No matter what you do you're going to have people that don't listen to you," Cohen said.

"Why can't we take time to figure out how to make a person mow their grass? Other communities do it ... We can't enforce anything," Figley said.

Cohen responded that he doesn't think other communities are doing that, and believes that every community "has a segment that doesn't mow their grass or take out their trash."

No action was taken on the matter and Zuch said it will be addressed in the future.

On a related matter, council members heard from Rusty Gribble, of JDS Landscaping, who has offered to dispose of agricultural waste at no charge to the village.

He explained the waste consists of leaves and demolition debris, not animal waste, and that his company uses it to make mulches and composting for alternative fuels.

"It becomes an alternative fuel so we aren't using as much fuel or as much gas," he said.

The company already does this particular disposal in Chippewa, Pa., and Salem. He said the village would need to decide on a location where the waste could be deposited and his company would then haul that waste away for free.

"There is an unbelievable amount of yard waste you can put into a compact," he said.

Zuch said she believes residents would take advantage of the service.

"If they had a place to take that they'd be more than happy to just get rid of it," she said.

The company would not haul away household appliances or televisions, he stressed.

Council did not act on the matter. Council did approve, however, a second reading of legislation to sell the 1983 Chevy truck.



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