County planners push for litter resolution

By Megan R. Harrell
Star Staff
mharrell@starhq.com

   After visiting the issue of litter control several times over the past year, the Carter County Planning Commission will decide on a resolution by its February meeting. Planners pushed to finalize a litter resolution during their monthly meeting Tuesday night.
   Commissioner Jerry Pearman voiced concern that the issue of litter regulation has been discussed many times in the past, and he wants to make sure it does not fall through the cracks again.
   "We are just sitting here spinning our wheels," Pearman said. "We need to decide which resolution we want to adopt and take it before the full commission."
   Last month commissioners were presented with three litter resolution options but postponed making any decision as to which would be the best for Carter County because of constitutionality issues raised by county attorney, George Dugger. During the December meeting, he recommended further research be completed before the commission draws up a resolution addressing the issue.
   The county would either adopt regulations similar to the city of Elizabethton, which are enforced in civil court, or it could adopt regulations that are enforced by the Carter County Sheriff's Department.
   Last night, members of the planning commission discussed the growing litter problem in the county and stated they want to make sure a resolution is agreed upon before their next scheduled meeting. "There is no use in having a planning commission if we are not going to have any litter laws," Pearman said.
   Fellow planner, John Hyder made the motion that state planner, Albert Teilhet research the cost of setting up and enforcing a litter resolution for one year. Teilhet is expected to look at Washington County's litter regulations to come up with an estimated first year cost for Carter County.
   Hyder stated that the planning commission needs to be able to tell the full county commission which resolution it recommends and how much it will cost to put into place. He added that it is important to make sure a litter resolution is on the table soon, because countywide budget negotiations are around the corner.
   Chairman, Bob Hughes believes that regulations alone are not enough to solve the county's litter problems. He noted that changing residents attitudes toward their community is the only long-term solution to the problem.
   "One of the key issues is educating the people to take into consideration the opportunity to improve their neighborhood and the community," Hughes said.
   County Executive, Dale Fair agreed awareness is more the issue than enforcing countywide regulations. He stated that incentives could be used, as well as deterrents to solve littering problems.
   In other business, the planning commission voted to send letters to all mobile home park residents in notification of their intent to make house numbers visible. The motion came in response to requests from local emergency workers who have found it difficult to locate residents in mobile home parks. The emergency responders also requested the planning commission place street signs in the parks.