Sanders on new law: Litter not a ‘victimless crime’

Published 5:53 pm Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Troy residents have new ways to identify and combat the problems caused by litter, thanks to a new city ordinance.

The ordinance, passed unanimously by the council on June 24, is more explanatory than the previous ordinance, according to Planning Administrator and Keep Troy Beautiful director Melissa Sanders.

“This law will help make Troy a cleaner and safer environment to live, work and play in,” Sanders said.

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The presence of litter in a community decreases property values by approximately 7 percent, according to the National Association of Home Builders pricing model.

“Littering is not a victimless crime,” Sanders said. “It affects neighbors, animals, environments and property values. It has more than just cosmetic impact. Junk and trash attract vermin and breeding of pests.”

The ordinance’s definition of litter has been expanded to include food waste, yard waste, bottles, food wrappers, diapers, unlighted cigarettes and cigars and butts, as well as many other types of waste. Junk, garbage, refuse, rubbish also have expanded definitions.

“The new ordinance highlights cigarettes as part of the definition of litter,” Sanders said. “It’s one of the most littered items in the United States — dangerous chemicals go into our environment. One small piece can add up.”

Allowing of accumulation of litter on property, if not stored properly, is unlawful and illegal, according to Sanders. Violators of the ordinance can receive a written corrective notice of violation from a litter control officer, and must remove the litter from their property within the time specified in the notice or be subject to penalties and fines.

Periods of time to correct the violation range from 24 hours to 30 days, depending on the severity of the accumulation of litter.

Individuals or businesses who have received a corrective notice can submit a written appeal within the time period of the effective notice, which will go to the City Council for review, according to Sanders.

“Any person who fails to comply within the time period and have not filed an appeal, are subject to fines and penalties,” Sanders said. “All documentation is turned over to the police and court department.”

Fines are up to $300 for the first offense, $400 for the second offense, and $500 for third and subsequent offenses. Each day that a person is in violation is considered a separate and distinct violation and will constitute a separate offense.

Sanders emphasized that voluntary clean up is the main goal of the city in this effort.

“We are a friendly city,” Sanders said. “Our main goal is voluntary compliance.”

To learn more about the ordinance, go to