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Driver Roger Aldridge picks up a yard waste container with an automated truck in a Hartselle neighborhood in May 2006.
Daily file photo by Deangelo McDaniel
Driver Roger Aldridge picks up a yard waste container with an automated truck in a Hartselle neighborhood in May 2006.

You've been warned
Hartselle stepping up enforcement
to make city cleaner

By Deangelo McDaniel
dmcdaniel@decaturdaily.com 340-2469

HARTSELLE — If your property is a nuisance, a warning from City Hall may be arriving in the mail.

Unlike years past, you're going to get only one warning this year.

In keeping with the mayor's promise to make Hartselle cleaner, city officials said they will step up efforts this summer, and no longer send second warnings.

"The second warning is going to be a summons to court," said Jeff Johnson of the Department of Development. "In the past, we have sent two or three notices. This time it's one notice."

Closing 375 cases

In the first four months of 2007, Hartselle received 385 complaints relating to cleanliness in the city.

"We have closed 375 of the cases," Johnson said. "We give them 10 days to clean up their property and most people comply."

Mayor Dwight Tankersley said one consistent complaint during his 2004 campaign was about yard debris piled in streets.

"The city was not picking it up in a timely manner," he said.

At that time, the city was contracting out garbage collection.

City started collection

That's why the city itself started collecting residents' garbage and yard waste in February 2006. The city provided each home with a 96-gallon yard debris container and 96-gallon trash container.

City-owned vehicles run four days per week. Hartselle also continues to use its big truck with a boom to remove large debris such as tree limbs.

Also, if you have large items like a refrigerator, the city will pick them up for a $10 charge.

"The response from residents has been positive and I can tell the city is cleaner, especially in the summer when people mow yards," Tankersley said.

The only problem Hartselle has had with yard debris is that residents don't sometime separate yard clippings from other items.

For example, some people are bagging their grass clippings before placing them in the container.

"Ultimately we turn all of this into compost," the mayor said. "That's why I tell people not to put anything in the debris container they would want chopped up and used as compost in their front yard."

Johnson said another problem is getting owners of vacant lots to keep grass cut. Hartselle ordinance does not permit grass to be higher than a foot.

Last summer, Johnson sent one property owner seven letters about grass being too tall.

"They would cut the grass each time," he said. "We were baby-sitting this property. This year, I have sent them the first letter and told them I could continue to send a notice. We expect them to maintain the property."

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