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City officials in Pepper Pike returned to work on a Monday only to find mounds of rubbish and recyclables at the service center.

PEPPER PIKE — After months of dealing with trash left at Pepper Pike City Hall, residents are no longer permitted to leave rubbish and recyclables at the service center on weekends. Service Director Bob Girardi said that employees arrived on Monday mornings to find an excessive amount of trash that littered the parking lot and nearby waterways.

“It just got out of hand. Garbage shouldn’t blow in the creeks and streams,” Mr. Girardi said on Jan. 2. “The raccoon population will be booming,” he added, explaining that service employees sometimes found chicken bones around the truck motors.

The new policy in which residents cannot drop off rubbish and recyclable materials at the service department on Shaker Boulevard on weekends went into effect on Saturday. Mr. Girardi said that the residents were informed via an email from the city.

“You name it,” Mr. Girardi responded when asked what kind of materials were found at the drop-off location. Although residents are allowed to drop off trash there, sometimes there were pieces of furniture and large amounts of cardboard. Mayor Richard Bain explained earlier this year that this service is offered to residents of the city for free, but it appeared that some contractors may also use the site to dump their materials.

Mayor Bain said that this simple and straightforward plan will hopefully be easy to follow.

“There were some who unfortunately seem to use our facility for more than simply what might be their personal refuse,” he said. “As other cities have had to cut back and even reject recyclables, there are people who have turned to our open facility and it’s gone beyond our capacity to maintain a clean and healthy environment.”

He said that limiting drop offs to weekdays is the most direct, efficient solution to the rubbish problem.

In addition, Mr. Girardi said that some of the items that are dropped off may be hazardous and cause fires and burns. Rather than cleaning up a large mess on Monday, he said that it is better for residents to drop off their rubbish and recyclables during the week so employees are present to help sort and place the materials in their proper locations. Although residents can come anytime Monday through Friday, Mr. Girardi said that the preferred hours are 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

“Animals get into it at night like raccoons and other rodents,” he said. “It’s better to clean it up every day instead of having a horrendous clean up after the weekend. It’s not a good situation for the employees or for the environment.”

Residents received an email on Dec. 31 notifying them of the change. The email noted that residents are welcome to drop off “reasonable” amounts of rubbish and recycling Monday through Friday. Mr. Girardi did not give an exact definition of reasonable, but said that if the bed of a pickup truck is full of materials, that seems unreasonable. If it is half full, however, that seems acceptable.

Under the contract with waste hauler Republic Services, the city pays $41.90 per ton of rubbish to be taken away and dumped.

“It got out of control and this is the only way to get it back in order without stopping it completely,” Mr. Girardi said. “We’re not trying to make people angry. We want to do the right thing.”

This is not the first time that Pepper Pike has sought to regulate the amount of trash that is dumped at City Hall. In August, council discussed an ordinance to ban residents from dropping off construction debris, soil, grass clippings, railroad ties or an excessive amount of material. That ordinance defined an “excessive” amount as “more than 1 cubic yard within a 24 hour period without the written approval of the service director or his designee.”

That ordinance came with a $150 fee or a misdemeanor charge, depending on the violation. Council tabled the ordinance and has not reviewed it again since August.

Julie Hullett has been a reporter for the Chagrin Valley Times since August of 2018 and covers Gates Mills, Hunting Valley, Moreland Hills, Orange, Pepper Pike and Woodmere. She graduated from John Carroll University with a journalism degree in 2018.

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