Be mindful of your neighbors

Guest Viewpoint

The closer we live to one another, the more aware we are that we must be Good Neighbors. In times of crisis, neighbors help one another. Snowstorms, power outages or fires seem to bring out the best in most people.

Summer brings a different set of problems. Barking dogs, and noisy parties can be annoying, but are rarely dangerous. However, the summer heat causes problems that are invisible in winter. There is nothing worse in the summer than the smell of someone else’s rotting garbage.

Since the recent spell of hot weather hit us, I’ve received many calls from people complaining about the smell of stewing garbage in a neighbor’s yard. Not only is it offensive, it is unhealthy and even dangerous. Wild animals are attracted by the smell, and will tear into trash bags that have not been properly contained or disposed. On my drive into town each Thursday, I often see crows eating from trash bags that were left on the curb the previous night.

After several calls regarding the smell of rotting garbage at a local business, the manager arranged to have the trash picked up twice a week instead of once a week.

Landlords have a responsibility to take care of trash left behind by vacating tenants. On some streets in our town there is often a home that has plastic bags full of trash littering the yard. Raccoons, birds and even pets tear at the bags and make the mess worse. The wind blows paper and litter into the neighbor’s yards, and leads to phone calls to the Town Hall to fix the problem.

Our code officer has been contacting property owners about the health hazard that accumulated trash poses. The New York State Property Maintenance Code prohibits the accumulation of garbage. Excess garbage frequently leads to infestations of rodents, such a mice and rats. According to the state law, repeated failure to keep property clean of garbage can result in fines and penalties.

If we lived miles from our nearest neighbors, our noise, animals and trash would bother no one else but us. Since few of us have that luxury, we have to be Good Neighbors. The quality of life in our town depends on it.

Margaret Bartley

Elizabethtown Supervisor

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