Forsyth County administration building

Forsyth County commissioners have embarked on efforts to address possible code violations relating to dumpsters placed in residential areas for extended periods. Officials also enacted a moratorium on land disturbance permits for a residential zoning designation to bring it in line with current updates in architectural design standards.

CUMMING, Ga. — Forsyth County commissioners spent a great deal of their June 8 work session talking trash over a bid to ban dumpsters placed in all residential areas.

The issue first came up in a May 25 work session when commissioners considered a 30-day time limit on dumpsters located in residentially zoned areas.

Commissioner Molly Cooper said she initiated the action after having received complaints from residents about dumpsters sitting in driveways for extended periods of time. Some cited cases where a dumpster in a neighbor’s yard was to the point of overflowing.

The regulations would not apply for those cases where a permit has been issued for work on a property.

The regulations would not apply to those cases where a permit has been issued for work on a property.

Commissioner Todd Levent asked the matter be delayed to consider lengthening the time beyond 30 days because not all home projects require permits. If a homeowner gets a new roof or has new siding installed, he said, the project can run more than 30 days, and neither project requires a permit.

Commissioner Alfred John said a dumpster may sit on a property for an extended period if a tree falls on a house.

No action was taken on the matter in May, but the commission revisited the issue at its June 8 work session.

Heather Ryan, Forsyth County planning manager, presented a revamped proposal, including some provisions for exceptions.

The regulations would ban dumpsters in residential districts, with exceptions for:

Those associated with an active building or land disturbance permit.

Those on site for 30 days or less.

Those screened from view from all property lines.

The proposal also addresses the types of materials that may be deposited in dumpsters located in residential districts. The regulation would ban accumulation of waste that may create a health or environmental hazard or a nuisance.

“We’re not trying to be punitive here,” Cooper said. “If you’ve got a large dumpster, and you’re using it as a trash can – you can’t.”

Cooper added that based on the phone calls she’s received from residents, notifying Code Enforcement about the problem has yielded no results.

Commissioners debated whether to include roll-off dumpsters in the regulations.

Addressing Cooper, Levent said roll-offs were commonly used by the construction industry, and it seems the county is punishing everyone for a few violations.

“You don’t need to be attacking other people for something they didn’t do wrong,” he said. “Leave them alone. Their industry’s not causing an issue … Your complaints didn’t come from roll-off dumpsters. They came from the smaller dumpsters that are handling solid waste and household trash.”

Cooper called the charge “ridiculous,” and said industries, like roofing, siding and small renovation specialists that do not require permits are unlikely to require a dumpster for more than 30 days. She also said the complaints she received are real, not hyperbole.

“We can go all day with ‘what-ifs,’” she said.

Commissioner John said that even roll-off dumpsters can accumulate unsightly trash and create a nuisance.

Commission Chairwoman Cindy Jones Mills recommended county staff collaborate with the new head of Code Enforcement for suggestions on how the regulations can be enforced.

To that point, County Attorney Ken Jarrard said if current regulations are making enforcement a problem, commissioners need to beef up the code and specify precisely what is not allowed in dumpsters while located in residential districts. General household trash and waste can be a problem after even one week, he said.

“That would be a nuisance in any jurisdiction, whether it’s spilling over or not,” he said.

Jarrard advised the county craft a part in the code that presumes if there is trash in the dumpster at a residence, the owner can be cited for illegal dumping.

Commissioners agreed to draw up revisions that address time frames for emptying, removal and allowable contents in dumpsters before a final vote. The board set July 13 as the next time to resume discussions on a matter, a full three weeks after the county’s new Code Enforcement director is in place.

John said all new ordinances start somewhere, even a single complaint, and he urged action on what appears to be a problem capable of festering.

“I think we’ve got to take a shot at it,” he said.

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