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Dumpster ordinance draws concerns from landlords, others

Mason City’s Planning and Zoning Commission heard concerns from citizens at a metting Tuesday night about a new ordinance that requires dumpsters and other garbage containers to be hidden from view. The practicality of the ordinance as well as the cost to implement were discussed. Above: Pam Myhre, Mason City’s director of growth planning and development, addresses people at the meeting. Video included.|The Planning and Zoning Commission heald a meeting Tuesday night and heard concerns about new laws in Mason City requiring dumpsters and other garbage containers to be hidden from view or stored in buildings.

The ordinance requires all existing refuse and refuse handling equipment, including but not limited to garbage cans and dumpsters, to be stored within buildings or be screened from eye-level view (except for 1- or 2-unit residences) by December 31, 2011. The regulations are meant to promote both public health and city beautification.

After an introduction by city staff and a presentation of issues and concerns by Waste Management was heard first.

The commission then took questions from people in attendance to try to sort our how the ordinance would go into affect, and what kinds of issues the refuse haulers would face as well as the issues faced by property owners. Many of the people who attended the meeting were landlords or people who would be most affected by the new ordinances.

Former Mayor Jean Marinos was in attendance and asked that each property be looked at individually and then see how that situation could be made better. She says there are “some places we just can’t do it” yet her company wants to stay in compliance.

Fellow real estate professional and landlord Tim Latham says “this ordinance is not practical” due to snow piling up inside enclosures that would be built to conceal dumpsters, making it difficult for refuse haulers to move dumpsters in and out of the enclosures. He also said “90% of places you go to won’t have room to do this.”

Larry Elwood said picking up and putting down the refuse containers in and out of the enclosures would cause damage to enclosures and cause them over time to deteriorate and look worse and worse. “I understand restaurants, they should have them,” he said. “I’m against it, I think it’s fine as it is.”

There was also a great concern over the cost to implement the ordinance. For example, the library in Mason City has to build an enclosure for dumpsters in its parking lot, costing about $27,000. “We were told it has to match the building,” raising the cost, Libarary Director Mary Markwalter said. Latham also said the cost to enclose two refuse containers would be approximately $3,000.

The Planning and Zoning Commission may make recommendations to change the ordinance and pass those over to the City Council for their approval.

Watch video of the discussion:


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