The City of Plant City is planning to crack down on illegal dumping throughout the community via Code Enforcement’s new Illegal Dumping Pilot Project.
Code Enforcement is cracking down on illegal dumping throughout Plant City via the launch of the brand new Illegal Dumping Pilot Project.
The goal is to set up a streamlined process for residents to identify sites of illegal dumping and report it to the city. The hope is that this will help not only highlight new trash sites, but will also allow the police the chance to identify those who are breaking the law.
“I’ve been actually working on this project for about a year and collecting data about it,” Code Enforcement Director Tina Barber said. “There’s a lot of illegal dumping, not just in the city, but in the corridors of the city like Coronet Road. There’s couches, furniture, tires and throughout the year we kind of kept track of it and then we noted it has becoming more and more of a problem.”
The issue is that trash has been piling up throughout the city, which costs thousands of taxpayer dollars to clean up. This isn’t referencing the trash that homeowners and businesses correctly bag and stow for city crews to cleanup as part of its designated pickup. This program is focused entirely on illegal dumping, or the disposal of waste in a prohibited area.
“It is also referred to as ‘open dumping, fly dumping and midnight dumping’ because materials are often dumped in open areas, from vehicles along roadsides, and late at night,” Code Enforcement wrote in news release. “Illegally dumped wastes are primarily materials that are dumped to avoid either disposal fees or the time and effort required for proper disposal.”
These materials usually include:
- Construction and demolition waste such as drywall, roofing shingles, lumber, bricks, concrete, and siding
- Abandoned automobiles, auto parts, and scrap tires
- Yard waste
- Household trash
- Medical waste
City Manager Bill McDaniel said he encouraged Code Enforcement to develop this program because he also noticed the increase in illegal dumping throughout the city.
“You don’t have to drive very far to see what’s happening,” McDaniel said. “Some of our, lets call them our more isolated areas, people are taking advantage of the woods or whatever and are dumping material.
It’s a nuisance, it’s a burden and some of this stuff being dumped is potentially hazardous.”
According to Code Enforcement the unfortunate trend is that those who chose to illegally dump are picking locations that already have indications of being a dumpsite. Quickly a location goes from being clean to completely trashed as it becomes a target for more and more trash. This is not only a massive economic burden, but it becomes a public health hazard depending on what is left exposed at the site. Barber said she has caught people in the act of dumping medical waste at dumpsters rather than taking it to the proper disposal sites at hospitals.
Barber said that both the City of Plant City and private business and land owners are having to shell out thousands of dollars each year to take care of the issue. For example, one business owner on Collins Street is having to pay $25,000 just to clean up the trash left from strangers behind their business. It’s a trend that Barber believes is getting worse.
“It actually started on the side of the road when I saw car parts literally dumped on the street,” Barber said. “I thought that wasn’t normal so I made note of it and would pick stuff up and my team would pick stuff up. Then when COVID hit we were limited on what we were doing and when we came back out it felt like it had tripled over night. It was the craziest thing I’d ever seen.”
For a short period of time the city had stopped picking up furniture due to the pandemic. Instead of storing the items or finding another outlet to get rid of them people began dumping their mattresses, beds, furniture and other large pieces on the side of the road and in hidden sites. The city will be cracking down on the issue by spreading educational materials like flyers and social media announcements that detail the avenues available to get rid of items and also highlighting the fact they are seeking people to report what they find. The city is also planning to put up illegal dumping signs and will be installing cameras at known dump locations that will help them identify the illegal dumpers.
“Illegal dumping is a criminal violation and I want to see us get serious, crack down on it, put a stop to it and get these areas cleaned up and keep them clean,” McDaniel said. “We’ve seen everything from boat hulls and vehicle parts, I know in one place we had where it looked like someone had cleaned out a motel or something and dumped all of these tvs in a wooded area here in the city. That’s a huge cleanup burden to put on the landowners. It just needs to stop. Recently the county prosecuted someone for dumping oil into a waterway. This is the kind of stuff that just cannot be allowed to go on. We’re hoping through this program that we can encourage people proactively to stop it and use the appropriate resources to dispose of stuff and if not we are going to build cases against the violators and take the appropriate action. It is a burden on the entire community.”
If you spot examples of illegal dumping call the city at 813-659-4200 ext. 4289. You can also email code enforcement at code firstname.lastname@example.org. If you see someone in the act of illegal dumping call Plant City Police Department at 813-757-9200.
When you call the city asks that you identify the exact location of the dumpsite by including the closest major cross street, describe what is at the dumpsite and if you see someone in the process of dumping attempt to identify the person, vehicle or company involved. Tthe city is adamant that it does not want those reporting to dig through the site or to confront people who are illegally dumping.
“There are layers to this issue that we are hoping are addressed by this project,” Barber said. “First off I don’t think people realize illegal dumping is actually a crime and depending on what and how much you dump it can be a felony. Second, taxpayer money is being used and if its private property and the owners haven’t cleaned it up, we do, and then we lien the property. This is a safety hazard and something we take very seriously.”