Cary officials consider littering ordinance

CARY – A proposed ordinance to prevent littering, motivated by the distribution of unwanted publications, is being considered by the village.

Cary officials are looking to enact a littering ordinance after they received complaints from residents about unwanted copies of newspapers being left in front of houses.

Village staff and board members have received calls from residents about thin publications in green bags being delivered.

Deliveries were made repeatedly to vacant homes in the foreclosure process, leading to unsightly debris in parkways, driveways and other parts of residential properties, according to village documents.

When the Village Board will vote on the ordinance has yet to be determined, said Village Administrator Chris Clark. The ordinance received a thumbsup this week from the village’s Administration and Development Committee.

The village cannot restrict the distribution of newspapers because of First Amendment protections.

However, it can adopt an ordinance to prohibit distribution of newspaper materials in a manner that leads to littering or becomes a nuisance, said Village Attorney Michael Coppedge.

Under the proposed ordinance, newspapers can be delivered for free, but have to be distributed in a manner to prevent the papers “from being carried or deposited by the elements upon any street, sidewalk or other public place or private property.”

Coppedge said the proposed ordinance wouldn’t stop newspapers from distributing copies, but it would have to be in a manner that wouldn’t cause the papers to blow around the street or accumulate week after week. 

If adopted, citations would go to the carrier distributing the newspaper, not necessarily the publication company. However, the company can be contacted, Coppedge said.

The proposed ordinance also would ban throwing or depositing handbills, such as advertisement materials or leaflets, onto vehicles or on vacant private property. Handbills would have to be given directly to property owners or occupants or left on doorknobs.

The ordinance also would ban throwing trash onto the ground in town. There currently is no littering ordinance in the village.

If adopted, people who violate the ordinance would face a fine between $25 and $500.

Trustee Karen Lukasik said homeowners have become frustrated because they didn’t ask for the copies of the publication in the first place.

“You have to call them several times to get them to stop,” Lukasik said. “Eventually it will blow into the street ... It’s frustrating. “

In a recent village cleanup, employees had to pick up many copies of newspapers, Clark said.

“We did it once,” Clark said. “Because it was so bad in some neighborhoods we don’t plan to continue doing that.”

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