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Trash Can Policies Anger Some Raleigh Homeowners

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Some Raleigh residents say a part of the new curbside collection should be trashed.

Under the new rules, residents can put their trash cans out anytime after sundown the day before collection and must bring their them in by sundown the day of pickup.

While the rules are very clear, many people don't have a clear-cut schedule, and that's why they say the rules need to change.

On Jan. 18, Margaret Harnish, a violin teacher, had a full schedule of evening lessons, so she put her trashcan by the curb at 1:30 p.m. on the day before collection. The next thing she knew, she said she had a $50 fine for putting her can out too early.

"I was stunned," Harnish said. "You can't stop a lesson and say I'll take a few minutes out of your lesson and take the trash out. You just can't do that."

Harnish appealed her fine to the Raleigh City Council, and won. But she's not stopping there. She wants the policy changed.

"There are lots of people like me who work in the afternoons and evening when the law doesn't work," Harnish said.

City Council member Philip Isley called the fines mean-spirited. He wants them outlawed altogether, or at least give residents more time to take their trash in and out.

"There's got to be some flexibility to allow people to live their lives, to get to and from work without being fined $50 for either retrieving their cans late or too early," Isley said.

The city's Public Works Committee will now examine the rules and consider extending the hours. But chairman Jesse Taliaferro thinks the fines have a purpose.

"We don't want people to store trash cans at the curb," said Taliaferro. "If there's no fine, that's what people will start to do."

Harnish just wants a law that makes sense, so everyone is on the same page.

"I think it's a poor policy," Harnish said.

Some of the complaints that have come in front of City Council involve the elderly. City leaders are urging them to take advantage of the special backyard service available to older individuals and the disabled.

Since the new trash collection began last January, more than 450 citations have been issued. Eighty-six of those were appealed. The Solid Waste Department granted 10 of those appeals. Three cases made it all the way to City Council, which waived the fines.


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