Morgantown City Council moves ordinance amending litter code to agenda, approves Cypress Street into city street system

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Morgantown City Council has moved changes to the city’s litter and waste disposal codes to the agenda and approved a street to be added to the city street system.

An ordinance that would change what is classified as littering, clarify where waste disposal bins can be located, and add additional municipal departments to enforce city code has been moved to the council’s agenda as part of efforts to refine the city’s waste disposal and litter codes. The changes are aimed at addressing a variety of concerns that range from the location of disposal bins on Willey Street to “medical waste” littering and the need for extra enforcement. City Director of Development Services Rickie Yeager states the ordinance would combine those initiatives to make enforcement more universal for littering and waste disposal.

“This brings the litter ordinance as well as the solid waste collection ordinance together to make them more parallel and consistent with each other,” said Yeager on the proposal moved to the council’s agenda.

Changes proposed to the city litter code would require any Morgantown resident who has a disposal bin to keep any sidewalk or public right-of-way clear of litter and blockage for pedestrians, with the exception for designated times for waste pickups. Any violations would be enforced by newly implemented “Special Litter Prevention Officers” that would include the City Director of Development Services (Yeager), the City Building Official and Deputy Building Official, Morgantown Parking Authority employees, and the City Fire Marshall and Deputy Fire Marshall. Yeager also adds that parameters for “medical waste” disposal are part of the ordinance, which includes increased penalties for littering that pertain to sharps that have been reported in neighborhoods around downtown.

“The police department has also requested that medical waste and infectious medical waste be defined and included as littering,” said Yeager. “In doing so, the police department also requested adding an additional penalty for this type of violation, including an optional term of imprisonment,” he said.

Penalties classified under “medical waste” littering include a fine of up to $500 or 30 days in jail; regular littering penalties will include fines of up to $500.

If the ordinance is approved by council, Yeager stated that several measures will be taken to address particular concerns expressed by residents and city employees. This includes plans to consider options for designated disposal bin areas to account for a lack of ideal locations for residents in areas like Willey Street who may be unintentionally blocking right-of-ways or sidewalks. For the training of municipal employees to enforce measures that, in some cases, could include jail time, City Attorney Ryan Simonton states that training would take place as soon as September 2023 if the ordinance were to move forward.

“We’ve scheduled another training session in late September where a new fire marshal and new deputy building officials will attend,” said City Attorney Ryan Simonton on how employees will be introduced to the new code. “Go through that training process to be prepared to issue those citations,” he said.

The ordinance to address Morgantown’s litter and waste disposal codes will be considered during the council’s regular meeting in September.

Council also unanimously approved an ordinance that would authorize the inclusion of Cypress Street into the city street system. This was approved amidst concerns from residents on the street regarding through traffic coming from nearby Van Voorhis Road and the maintenance of the road itself. With pending construction around Van Voorhis expected to affect neighborhood streets, city officials were happy to move forward with the ordinance that was made in cooperation with residents and the city.

“The concern was that it would be made a thorough fair for the entire area, and the key is that the city’s agreed to restrict it from vehicular traffic,” said City Manager Kim Haws. “That was in agreement, and we’re ready to move forward with that,” he said.