By Ian Perrotta
There’s no question that sometimes there is too much litter on Jos. Campau. But there was a question of how to correct that problem – until now.
The short, simple answer? Code enforcement.
Last week, The Review reported on the inordinate trash problem facing the business district of Jos. Campau. Several business owners had expressed concern over the fact that some businesses did not have adequate means to dispose of their trash despite ordinances requiring them to do so.
The city’s Director of Public Services, Marty Ladd, said that the city couldn’t act on the problem because it was a matter related to the county’s health code. And though there is some truth to that, the city’s hands aren’t exactly tied when it comes to taking action.
According to Carol Austerberry, the Acting Environmental Health Director for the Wayne County Health Department, one of the articles in the county’s environmental health regulations covers nuisance and disease prevention. It states that garbage and rubbish must be stored in a container that doesn’t allow pests.
Austerberry went on to explain that in the event of an ordinance violation, once the department is contacted by either residents or the city and is notified of a problem, it can then open an investigation. Once the investigation is completed, action can then be taken to rectify the problem.
But responsibility does not lie solely with the county. While the Health Department does enforce regulations that are county wide, it does not have the authority to enforce the City of Hamtramck’s codes. That is where the city comes in.
“The City of Hamtramck has the ability to enforce their own regulations and ordinances,” said Austerberry.
County officials also stressed they don’t have the manpower to enforce litter laws in every city in the county.
Essentially, if the city wants to crackdown on the perpetrators, it can do so by issuing compliance tickets. It can also employ the resources of the Health Department to add extra pressure to businesses that do not conform to the ordinances. And should a business refuse to comply, as a last resort the city can revoke its business license.
For his part, Ladd said that past attempts to bring in the Health Department proved unsuccessful. He also says his own department is overstretched as it is, and that its focus is more on residential areas, where sanitation problems present a more immediate danger.
“Public safety is our number one priority,” he said. “When there are rats living in neighborhoods, they’re going to take precedence.”
So, who’s going to enforce the litter laws on Jos. Campau? It looks like no one so far.