Instead of taking their debris to the landfill, a handful of tree contractors have been secretly dumping their limbs, branches and stumps in vacant lots and back roads throughout Greenville.
Jermaine Thornton, the city’s public works director, said the problem has always somewhat existed; however, recently it seems to be getting much worse. It is now substantially slowing down trash collection in the city.
“This has become a huge problem for us,” Thornton said. “A couple of weeks ago, for example, we had to collect so much debris that a trip that would normally take one day took us three and a half days.”
It is not known which tree contractors are illegally dumping their debris.
To help fight this problem, the Greenville City Council passed an ordinance Tuesday making it a $1,000 fine each time a contractor is caught dumping tree debris.
All contractors are also required to obtain a permit at a cost of $25 to cut down or trim a tree. Before any permit is issued, a contractor must obtain a privilege license from the city clerk’s office.
The ordinance also makes contractors responsible for hauling off debris, and they must provide certification from a landfill as proof. If debris is taken out of the city, these contractors must provide the location.
In addition, the ordinance requires property owners to provide contractor’s information to the city in the event of a failure of the contractor to haul off debris. If the property owner is unwilling to provide the information, disposal of the debris becomes the responsibility of the property owner.
Property owners still do not need to obtain a permit to cut trees on their own property. Debris may still be placed on the city right-of-way on the owner’s property. Limbs may be no more than five feet in length and nine inches in diameter when placed on the right-of-way.
Council member Al Brock voted in favor of the ordinance, and he believes it will help prevent tree dumping in the future.
“We needed to do this because our workers have become overwhelmed with all of this dumping,” Brock said. “Some tree contractors are riding down the road late at night and finding a dark place to dump their debris.”
At Tuesday’s meeting, the council also discussed a possible rewards system for citizens to report on tree contractors who are illegally dumping their debris. However, no action was taken because of the many legal issues that could arise from implementing a reward system.