Hendersonville residents who blow leaves or grass into the street, or a place them in a drainage ditch could soon receive a citation for littering.
"It shall be unlawful for any person to blow, sweep, place, throw, track or allow to fall on any street, alley, sidewalk, storm water structure or ditch any refuse, glass, tacks, mud, yard clippings, leaves, grass, chemicals, fluids, or other objects or materials which obstruct or tend to limit or interfere with the use of such public ways, structures, or places for the intended purposes," reads an ordinance sponsored by Ward 4 Alderman Steve Brown.
The city's Board of Mayor and Aldermen passed the ordinance on first reading Tuesday 9 to 2. A second and final reading is expected March 28.
The amended ordinance adds yard clippings, leaves, grass, chemicals and fluids to a list of items that residents could be fined for leaving in the city's roadways or drainage ditches, according to Brown.
The alderman asked Helen Morrison, the city's erosion control enforcement officer, to address the board.
"The main thing is to educate citizens regarding our storm water ordinance," said Morrison. "When you put these clippings and debris into the roadway and into the drainage ditch and sidewalks, eventually they end up in in the storm sewer system."
Eventually, Morrison added, these "nutrients and glutens end up in our streams and end up in Old Hickory Lake and it's obviously detrimental to a large volume."
Brown, who displayed photos to board members of a storm drain loaded with grass and grass clippings in the middle of Main Street, said the biggest offender seems to be commercial mowing companies.
He showed a photo of a city employee cleaning up after one commercial mower.
"I can tell you I don't really want our high-dollar employees out cleaning up grass when a commercial mower service that is paid $100 bucks a job is blowing it out in the street," Brown added.
He said the ordinance gives the city a tool to control the problem. Most citizens would comply once they realize it's an issue, he added.
"It's not to pick on homeowners or make anyone's life miserable," said Brown. "We're just trying to make the city a little cleaner and safer."
Mark Skidmore, chairman of the Public Works Committee, said he's seen residents put grass clippings and chemicals like oil in drainage ditches without realizing the adverse effects.
"We see this all the time where a lot of people will just put their clippings in a ditch and it causes all sorts of drainage issues," he said.
Ward 3 Alderman Arlene Cunningham said she was in favor of the ordinance and asked how much the fine would be for breaking it.
Brown answered it would likely be a $50 fine plus court costs.
"I would venture to guess we would write few citations," he added.
Ward 6 Alderman Jim Waters said he'd rather see the city educate the public without making it a law. Waters also asked how the city would enforce the ordinance.
Morrison said the city would respond to complaints as well as keep an eye out during their normal daily duties.
Ward 1 Alderman Peg Petrelli said she believed the ordinance is needed to help the city comply with its federally mandated efforts to control storm water management.
Darrell Woodcock of Ward 5 asked who gets the citation if a commercial mower violates the law - the mower or the person who has hired them. He was told the citation would go to whoever is committing the unlawful act.
Woodcock and Waters voted against the ordinance. Ward 3 Alderman Angie Hedberg and Matt Stamper of Ward 6 did not attend Tuesday's meeting.