Cops target trashy problem on the highways

File - Sgt. Matthew McMullen of the Cherokee Marshal’s Office writes a citation to the driver of a truck that had paper flying from the back as it traveled south on Interstate 575 near Canton during a 2018 litter crackdown.

Drivers on Interstate 575 in Cherokee County are likely familiar with the large number of trash hauling trucks on the road, and may have seen litter fly out of open trailers. The county has changed its law to reduce that problem.

“I come to you tonight somewhat a little excited about this ordinance and somewhat a little sad that we have to talk about it,” Chief Marshal Jamie Gianfala said at Tuesday's Cherokee County Board of Commissioners meeting. “Our county is beautiful. But I’m also a little sad if you look at our roadways in some parts of the county at the amount of trash that we have.”

In an effort to control the amount of trash blowing onto the side of the road throughout Cherokee County, Gianfala presented an amendment to the county’s ordinance on solid waste that would require large trucks hauling material to landfills in the county to not only have a tarp or covering over the trailer when bringing trash to the landfill, as is already required by law, but also when leaving it. He pointed out the law was aimed entirely at commercial vehicles and vehicles-for-hire hauling waste to and from landfills, not at average citizens in a standard pickup truck who might have a piece of trash blow out of the bed of their truck.

“We feel that with this ordinance, we’ll be able to keep the contents in the vehicle not only to the landfill, but when they leave the landfill by putting a proper and working tarp on the vehicle. Any content that is not dumped at the landfill will stay inside the truck,” Gianfala said. “Is it going to stop everything? Absolutely not. Will it make a dent? Absolutely it will, and we feel like this ordinance, by tarping vehicles, will go a long way.”

Gianfala said once the ordinance was approved, the county would spend 30 to 45 days educating drivers delivering to landfills about the change in the law. Digital display signs would be placed at the exit to the landfills informing drivers of the amended ordinance, while paper notices would be delivered to the landfills containing all of the necessary information. Gianfala said officials with landfill facilities in the county have already said they would be posting these notices at the facilities. Lastly, the drivers would be given a grace period during this time to come into compliance with the changes.

During the public hearing on this proposed change, the commissioners heard from Creekside Estates resident Randy Cox, who said he was in favor of the amendment. Cox stated that the amount of trash he sees on East Cherokee Drive and Georgia Highway 20 near his neighborhood is not good and was glad to see this come before the board.

“I’d just like to thank Jamie and the Marshal’s Office for pursuing this ordinance, and I think it’s very much necessary. If the ordinance passes, we have added the language in the ordinance that would allow us to take 30 percent of the fine money and put it toward the Keep Cherokee Beautiful movement that Benny Carter started,” District 1 Commissioner Steve West, who was key in assisting during the creation of these amendments, said.

Once the public hearing was closed, West put forth a motion to approve the changes to the law and the language allowing for 30 percent of fines from violations of this sort to be given to Keep Cherokee Beautiful. District 2 Commissioner Richard Weatherby seconded the motion, which passed in a 5-0 vote of the board.

“I’d like to thank Commissioner West and Marshal Gianfala for your effort, thank you for your remembering Keep Cherokee Beautiful. I think this will be a great step toward us getting that program off the ground,” Carter said.

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