BEDFORD — Violators of proper Bedford County solid waste facilities usage will face increased fines following a unanimous ordinance amendment adopted Monday by the Bedford County Board of Supervisors.
The move comes as part of the county’s work to address the issue of illegal solid waste dumping at some county solid waste facilities, a problem staff and supervisors said is primarily due to non-Bedford County residents crossing county lines to dump their trash.
Fines for violators will increase from $50 to $250 if the fine is paid within 10 days. If the fine is paid later than 10 days after it is issued, the fee will raise from $100 to $500.
For months, supervisors have discussed the issue of overwhelmed county solid waste disposal sites and illegal dumping — especially at the Forest location off U.S. 221 and the Stewartsville location closer to Roanoke.
District 4 Supervisor John Sharp and District 2 Supervisor Edgar Tuck, in whose districts those two sites are located, have said they receive calls from constituents reporting the issues of overflow, and what residents believe to be illegal dumping by individuals crossing county lines to dispose of their trash.
Illegal dumping is a Class 1 misdemeanor, punishable with up to a $2,500 fine and/or six months in jail, according to a report from the Bedford County public works committee in consultation with County Attorney Patrick Skelley.
It increases solid waste disposal costs, which falls on Bedford County taxpayers, but with no way to verify which vehicles entering and using the facilities were from Bedford County or not, supervisors and county officials spent time brainstorming possible ways to better regulate traffic at certain county solid waste disposal sites and to penalize those who dump there illegally.
Supervisors previously asked county administrators about implementing a decal system, where Bedford County residents exclusively would receive stickers for their vehicles that would be scanned or otherwise noted upon entering a county waste disposal facility. County staff said they would look into options for this system.
On July 26, County Administrator Robert Hiss told supervisors in a work session that Bedford County was in a study phase surrounding illegal dumping at identified problem sites. On Oct. 12, findings from the Public Works Committee’s study and a committee discussion were presented to supervisors.
At the Forest waste collection facility Sept. 29, during a 1.5-hour monitoring session by county law enforcement, three vehicles out of 45 accessing the site were identified as being out of the county. Those three were given a warning, according to the documentation gathered from the study.
The recommended actions from the public works committee Bedford County could consider included several components.
Skelley, the county attorney, recommended eliminating the current pre-payable fine option and allowing a court to decide the level of fine an offender would pay for illegal dumping on a case-by-case basis.
If implemented in the future, a decal program would be designed to come at no cost to taxpayers. Bedford County departments would be responsible for logistics pertaining to such a system.
Random checks using license plate readers or a code enforcement officer would be conducted by Bedford County deputies.
Permanent signage would be added at certain problem facilities stating the law, decal requirement, legal ramifications of violating the law, and a public relations program would be created to teach residents of the region about Bedford County’s approach to the problem.
Further action beyond the new fine increase could be considered at future meetings.