Monahans Ready to Lay Down the Law Over Trash Violations

by Victor Lopez
NewsWest 9

MONAHANS--Code enforcement officials will start going after residents who don't start taking care of their garbage.  Dumpsters and alleyways all across town can be found littered with more than just household trash.

"You name it, we've got everything in the alleys right now," City Code Enforcement Officer, Richard Covington, said.

It's an ongoing problem all across the City of Monahans.  Folks are taking out the garbage but aren't quite making it all the way in to the dumpster.

"We've got people who clean up their yards and throw their stuff in the alleys. People just feel like they can throw their stuff in the alleys," Covington explained.

Most of the trash is old furniture, tree branches and other things that shouldn't be in the dumpster to begin with.  In the past, the city would take care of it, but not any more.

According to Covington, "It's not the city's responsibility. It was just a courtesy to go out there and clean up.  But times have gotten bad where there's not that many employees and not that much income, so we're trying to get the citizens to help the city out now by cleaning up behind themselves."

There's always been a city ordinance for home owners to be responsible, not only for their yard, but for the alley too.  The ordinance isn't just for debris.  Overgrown grass, brush and weeds are on the watch list too.

In one alley, there was a stack of tumble weeds piled higher than the dumpster.  It's situations like this that city officials want to take care of before the cold, dry, winter months set in, leaving them open for other, potential disasters.

"You got the winds in West Texas.  If the wind's blowing at the right time and you get a fire, you could wipe out a whole block, even a whole neighborhood," Covington commented.

Residents will get a letter in the mail telling them they are in violation of the ordinance.  They'll have 10 days to clean up or face further consequences.  Covington says the city officials have made that part pretty easy, "Our citizens do not have to pay to take yard brush to the landfill.  It's free.  That's something they should take advantage of instead of littering the alleys and taking a chance on getting an ordinance violation, following up with a citation, following up with going to see the judge."

Residents NewsWest 9 spoke with were pretty vocal about the whole situation.  One resident, who asked not to be identified, feels the ordinance applies differently to different sides of town.

"They'll clean the east side before they clean the north side.  I've had trash in my alley for about three weeks now and they still haven't come by and picked it up.  To me, they don't do it the way their supposed to," he said.

Nobody argues the point that the clean up needs to happen.  People just think it should be enforced equally.

"Economic conditions are not good, but that doesn't mean our city has to look bad," Covington said.