NAUGATUCK — It would take the deposit money from 2,000 cans to pay the fine that borough officials will impose on people caught digging for recyclables in residential trash cans or recycling bins.
The Board of Mayor and Burgesses on Tuesday approved an ordinance that imposes a $100 fine on people who dig through the garnet or gray bins that residents put their trash in. They say there has been an increase in that kind of activity and that police had no regulations to point to that would stop it.
The board held a hearing on the proposed ordinance before its regularly scheduled meeting at Town Hall. Nobody from the public showed up to discuss the idea.
However, resident Jimmy Ayash, gave an impassioned plea for officials to scrap it during the public comment portion of the regular meeting.
“Getting that money from recyclables is people’s security,” he said, his voice breaking up and sounding like he was getting emotional. “Having the right to go through garbage is as American as it gets.”
Ayash, a local restaurant owner who endured a civil war in Lebanon and has lived in Indonesia, seemed sympathetic to the plight of the poor.
But borough officials say they are not worried about people who don’t bother residents; they say they want police to enforce this ordinance on people who are creating a nuisance situation by knocking over garbage and recycling bins, banging cans and bottles early in the morning and holding up public works crews by making them wait until they are finished picking through the cans.
Deputy Mayor Tamath Rossi said she has seen some of garbage and recycling pickers in her neighborhood and that they leave trash strewn across the street. Naugatuck public works department said that is not uncommon.
Still, some questioned if this is a good use of police resources.
Mayor Robert Mezzo said, “We’re not looking for officers going on early morning jaunts en masse to catch these people. We’re looking to have some leverage when someone is causing a nuisance situation.”
Burgesses also clarified that if people leave their cans in bags for people to grab, or don’t complain about people who pick through their recyclables, then police will not fine that person.
Burgess Michael Bronko said he was not in favor of the amount of the fine, but agreed with the ordinance.