Millville goes back to drawing board on littering

The Millville Town Council has decided to go “back to the drawing board” on an ordinance meant to address littering.

The issue had been brought to the council’s attention by resident David Moeller, who frequently walks along Burbage Road picking up trash near his home in Bishop’s Landing. A proposed amendment to the town code was discussed at the Jan. 14 town council meeting.

One of the biggest issues recently, according to Town Manager Deborah Botchie, is trash from construction sites that isn’t properly contained.

She said that signs placed at construction sites have helped somewhat and that builders “have been a little more proactive” in containing their trash.

Moeller cited the ditch across Route 17 from the Beebe Healthcare South Coastal Campus construction site as one that is particularly bad.

“There’s all kinds of debris that looks like it came from packaging of roof shingles and foam padding, that kind of stuff,” he said.

“They’re supposed to clean it up once a week,” Botchie said with a small shrug.

Another part of the issue, though, involves businesses whose advertising fliers have a tendency to blow out of carts, littering the commercial and residential spaces around them. One possible way the Town might address that is to require businesses to supply receptacles for the placement of the fliers.

The council also discussed the problem of people throwing trash from vehicles – specifically, who is liable in such cases — the driver of the vehicle or the person who actually threw the trash, if it’s not the driver.

The Town is considering enacting penalties for littering. In the proposed amendment, a first-time offense would bring a $99 fine, and subsequent offenses could cost the offender up to $250.

Moeller said that in his research, the State of Delaware has some of the weakest laws regarding littering.

Moeller said he favors community service over fines as penalty for littering.

“To my mind, community service is actually a better deterrent,” he said. “People are more likely to give up their money than their time.”

“I think we need to draw a line in the sand,” Moeller said. “It’s got to be a series of incremental steps.”

Botchie asked toward the end of the discussion whether the Town should “go back to the drawing board on this” after Town Solicitor Seth Thompson attempted to address the need to better define what issues the Town wants to address, and how.

In other business on Jan. 14, the council heard a concern from resident David Van Stone regarding town regulations for paved patios. Van Stone, who identified himself as the chairman of the Bishop’s Landing architectural review committee, asked that the Town review the ordinance to consider making separate specifications for sidewalks in the side yards.

He told the council that he found it necessary to install a sidewalk in his side yard to accommodate the needs of his wife after she suffered a stroke. He told the council that he found the current ordinance, which would require him to file for a special permit, with a cost of $750 just to apply, would cause too much stress for his wife.

“Mr. Van Stone is absolutely correct,” Botchie said. She added that she and Code Enforcement Officer Eric Evans “have drafted language” to address Van Stone’s concern.

“It’s definitely becoming more of an issue,” said Town Clerk Matt Amerling. The council will introduce the new language at its regular meeting on Feb. 11.


By Kerin Magill
Staff Reporter