City Council OKs notice method for garbage container violations

WILLMAR -- Property owners who leave their garbage containers on the curb longer than city ordinance allows could find a violation tag hanging on the container.

WILLMAR -- Property owners who leave their garbage containers on the curb longer than city ordinance allows could find a violation tag hanging on the container.

The notification method was recommended by the Willmar City Council's Community Development Committee and was approved by the council Monday night.

The city has been receiving an unusually high number of complaints about garbage containers being left at the curb for long periods of time, according to city staff.

Council member Cindy Swenson has said garbage containers are continually left for too long on the boulevard in a neighborhood of the Third Ward, which she represents.

The committee discussed the problem last week with representatives of Willmar City Sanitation and West Central Sanitation.


Council member Bruce DeBlieck, who is Community Development Committee chairman, reported to the council that the garbage haulers prefer that the notices be placed on the containers by city employees. If the haulers place the notices, there is no documentation of the complaint, said DeBlieck.

Mayor Les Heitke asked if city staff should place the notices.

City Attorney Rich Ronning said he did not think that putting the notice on the can is enforcement.

"I think putting the notice on the can is letting the property owner know there is an ordinance and once that notice is there, from that point on it's the city's problem,'' said Ronning.

"If the notice is on the can because it's been placed there by the sanitation service, then the property owner has notice and we can pursue enforcement if we chose to do so,'' he said.

Council member Denis Anderson asked for clarification on the time containers are allowed to be placed on the curb. City Administrator Michael Schmit said the containers are allowed from 8 p.m. prior to the day of collection to 8 p.m. on the day of collection.

In an interview Tuesday, Schmit said both the city and the garbage haulers will initially provide ordinance information to property owners, and that the haulers will from time to time put informational reminders on their billing statements to customers.

He said city staff will tag containers that are left longer than allowed on the curbs, based on complaints reported to the city.


Violation of city ordinance is punishable as a misdemeanor. The penalty upon conviction is payment of a fine of up to $700, a jail sentence of up to 90 days, or both.

Among other agenda items, the council:

- Set June 16 as the date for the hearing to take comments from citizens whose property is proposed to be assessed for costs associated with this year's street improvement program. Total cost of this year's projects is estimated at $2,520,000, of which $1,114,000 would be assessed to benefited property owners.

- Set June 2 as the date to consider selling general obligation bonds to finance $1.5 million of the cost of this year's street projects.

- Accepted a $3,137 donation from the Minerd T. Wareberg estate. The money will be used to buy exercise and other equipment for the Senior Citizens Center.

- Discussed but took no action on a request from the Southwest Initiative Foundation of Hutchinson for a $10,000 contribution for 2008. The contribution was not funded by the city, however, because Mayor Les Heitke did not include the funding in his 2008 budget. The foundation's request will be discussed by the Finance Committee on May 27.

- Approved the preliminary plat of Terraplane Estates, a residential mix of four-plexes, three-plexes and twin homes. The 36-lot residential development is proposed by Gimse Brothers and Chad Monson, all of Willmar, and is located south of U.S. Highway 12 East between 24th Street Southeast and 25th Street Southeast.

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