MERRIAM, Kan. -- It's a battle of the bins in Merriam where the city is handing out notices to homeowners who don’t store their trash and recycling barrels out of sight.
“This is an old neighborhood, and they’re starting this right now?” questioned a woman named Linda, who has lived on West 48th Street for decades.
“I’ve been living here 15 years and no one has ever complained about it,” added Dennis, a man who lives down the street.
The standardized bulky trash and recycling barrels are a necessity; but according to the city, an ugly one.
“I think a reasonable, common view is that the barrels are not very aesthetically pleasing,” said Phil Lammers, Merriam city administrator.
Lammers explained enforcement is new, but the city code is not. It requires all Merriam residents to store their trash and recycling bins in their garage, or behind their house and screened so they can't be seen from the street. The only exceptions are 18 hours before and after trash collection.
“The people that comply, those are the folks who really want this kind of standard,” Lammers said. “It’s not just the elected officials and I think that’s the important thing to understand.”
Some people already follow the rules.
“I guess it goes back to my military days,” said Jerry Rappold. “I just like everything nice and neat. I’ve always been that way.”
But others who got notices this week from the city are having a tough time accepting the newly enforced standard.
“Do the ones that complain about it, do they want to come around and help everybody put these screens and whatever around their trash cans to hide them?” asked Linda. “Do they want to pay for it? Leave people alone. Let them do what they’re doing.”
Dennis also questioned the code after he got a notice from the city, despite feeling like he's already taken steps to hide his bins behind a brick wall and shrubbery.
“So they’re making them put it in the garage?” he said. “Well that’s a stinky situation. You know, there has to be a give and take. And I think we gave. Yeah it is to make the neighborhoods look nicer, but there's only so much that you can do. This is Merriam – this is not an uppity-up neighborhood.”
Lammers said the city will continue to patrol neighborhoods and hand out notices to homeowners who don’t comply with the city code. Next, they’ll hand out second warnings. For people who still don’t comply, they will eventually get a citation, go to municipal court and possibly pay a fine.