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The Franklin News-Post
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
Fax: 540-483-8013

Supervisors opt to increase surveillance at green box sites

Friday, August 22, 2014

By CHARLES BOOTHE - Staff Writer

Increased surveillance at green box sites will be used rather than civil penalties to prevent illegal dumping in Franklin County.

That was the decision the board of supervisors made after a public hearing Tuesday night.

The hearing had been set to consider the approval of civil fines, which would range from $250 for a first offense on placing out-of-county garbage in a county green box to a $1,000 fine on first-offense illegal dumping of commercial waste.

Civil penalties were being considered after the board learned during its June meeting that criminal charges were not an effective deterrent, in part because of the lack of court convictions.

Don Smith, public works director for the county, told the board in June that some green box sites are being inundated with illegal items, from tires to brush to construction debris.

Cleaning up the illegal debris is expensive, he said, costing the county about $92,000 last year.

The illegal dumping of commercial waste is also hurting landfill revenues, to the tune of about $152,000 a year, Smith said. At the same time, green box tonnage has increased.

In the current county Code, violators caught dumping illegal waste (including construction debris and brush) can be charged with a Class I misdemeanor and face a fine of up to $2,500 and/or 12 months in jail. Those found guilty of depositing illegal household debris or out-of-county household waste can be fined up to $35.

Smith told the supervisors in June that the court system is not always cooperative, and when the people who are issued a ticket go to court, the charge is often either dismissed or the fine lowered.

Before the public hearing Tuesday, Smith said that scenario has changed. More citations are being issued and the courts are convicting more offenders, he said.

However, no one illegally dumping commercial waste, a more serious problem and charge, has been caught, he added.

That prompted the board to reconsider the civil penalties, tabling the motion, and instead opting to increase surveillance, and possibly the number of citations being issued.

To accomplish this, the board approved the hiring of a part-time law enforcement professional to work the sites along with the routine patrolling of the sheriff's office.

Chris Whitlow, assistant county administrator, said the position will not require any extra budgetary dollars because the funding is available in the current budget.

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