Merriam residents push back against trash can screening requirement; ordinance to be reconsidered by council

Trash and recycling containers can be left out for only 18 hours after the collection time and then must be stored where they are not visible from the street.
Trash and recycling containers can be left out for only 18 hours after the collection time and then must be stored where they are not visible from the street under current Merriam ordinance.

More than a dozen Merriam residents told the city council Monday that they are unhappy with a city ordinance that requires trash cans be screened from view. The provision that requires screening was passed last summer, but only recently began being enforced by city codes administration.

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Councilor John Canterbury made a motion to change the ordinance, saying he sides with the residents who oppose the requirement for trash can screening.

After hearing the complaints, largely from a neighborhood around 48th Street and 47th Terrace in the 8900 block, Councilor John Canterbury made a motion to change the requirement for screening. “I have heard from residents and I am on the side of the residents,” Canterbury said. He suggested amending the ordinance to read that trash cans must be stored behind the building line or be screened from view. The ordinance now requires that they must be both behind the line and screened.

The council did not vote on the suggestion Monday. Mayor Ken Sissom directed staff to prepare an ordinance with Canterbury’s suggestion to present to the council at its meeting in two weeks. “We knew this was going to be controversial,” Sissom said. He told one of the speakers that the change had been in several city communications and had been the topic in several meetings last summer where nobody from the public showed up to talk about it.

Codes enforcement has started leaving notices of violation at houses where the trash cans were left in view. It has been doing small sections of the city at a time and has covered only a small portion of the city so far.

The crowd applauded after each of the speakers made their case against the screening ordinance. Dennis Miles was the first up and suggested that the screening requirement be up for a city-wide vote. He said building an enclosure around trash cans only gave burglars a place to hide.

Many of the residents said the current trash cans are not unattractive, they cannot be stored in small garages, and that many residents cannot afford to build a fence to hide the cans or pay for a citation. “Everyone is struggling,” one speaker said. Several residents also complained that code enforcement officers were rude to them.