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Board of Health looks to adopt new littering regulation

Town officials warn of big fines for residents leaving trash


TOWNSEND – Health officials are trying to clean up certain town streets by clarifying rules on garbage dispoal.

The Board of Health is looking to implement a new regulation later this month specifying the exemptions and penalties for littering in town. According to Town Health Administrator Carla Hitzenbuhler, the board originally voted on the regulation in July, but had to delay the signing to correct some errors in the language. Hitzenbuhler said the board plans to officially sign the regulation into law on Aug. 24 and have it go into effect on Sept. 1.

“The board has been hearing reports of littering on certain town roads,” Hitzenbuhler added. “Proctor Road behind North Middlesex Regional High School is notorious, Farmer’s Exchange and Old Turnpike Road have littering that residents continue to call about. Turnpike Road typically has used alcohol nips, Farmer’s Exchange is a furniture dumping ground, and Proctor behind the high school has alcohol nips, fast food trash and aerosol cans at all times during the year.”

The law states that residents are not allowed to throw away “any swill, hazardous waste, garbage, trash, house offal, yard waste, furniture of any kind or offensive waste” on “any public or private way,” along with any vacant lot, other property, public space or anywhere else aside from a designated trash location. Violators of the regulation will be fined $100 on the first offense, $200 on the second offense and $300 on the third offense.

Hitzenbuhler added that the regulations are not meant to discourage residents from displaying furniture for sale or for free on their front lawns or on the edge of their properties. Since that instance happens frequently in town, the regulation specifies that residents are allowed to keep furniture outside on the edge of their property for one week before being required to dispose of it.

This is the second time the Board of Health has tried to get a littering regulation in town code after residents voted down an article to amend the town’s recycling bylaw to include the regulation at a Special Town Meeting on Nov. 28, 2017.

“It’s disappointing because we had huge Earth Day plans this year with everyone signing up to clean certain streets, but we couldn’t do it due to COVID-19,” Hitzenbuhler said.