Keystone grapples with trash responsibility

Leslie Silverman

A host of confusion regarding the trash issue filled the July 7 Keystone Town Board meeting.
The discussion centered around how much businesses should be fined for failure to comply with the city’s trash receptacle ordinance and who would be responsible for enforcing the ordinance.
Trustees were hoping to have Pennington County Sheriff’s Office deputy Chris Plawman enforce the code, but as Trustee McLain  said, “I started the conversation with Chris. ‘Oh all those people have garbage cans. I don’t want to do that.’ I’m sorry it’s breaking our ordinance. He wasn’t receptive to it at all,” McLain said.
Finance officer Cassandra Ott said the town doesn’t need law enforcement to hand out violations. The town does not have a formal code enforcement officer nor a planning and zoning commission that might oversee such a task. The town went through this problem last year and sent letters to businesses explaining the ordinance.
“If you walk by a business and you can’t see a trash can at the entrance then they’re violating the ordinance,” said board president Kwinn Neff.
In fact the ordinance of the town states, “all commercial business establishments who operate a business in Keystone, South Dakota shall provide a suitable garbage receptacle at or near the entrance of their respective commercial establishment. The garbage receptacle shall be a garbage receptacle that holds a minimum of 13 gallons and a maximum of 30 gallons of garbage. The garbage receptacle shall be visible to and available for use by all pedestrians. No garbage receptacle shall be placed on state right of way.”
The penalty for the violation, however, is unclear.
“How I would like to handle this,” Ott said, “is if you receive a notice of violation and if you have a certain number of days to take care of it and if you don’t take care of it  in that number of days then you start accruing a fine. That fine can be anywhere from zero to $200.”
Ott liked the per-day amount to be $25.
“I feel like you can buy a nice trash can for $25. I feel like that’s more in line with the severity of the issue,” she said.
However, that “severity” might be in question. Anecdotal accounts of shopkeepers dumping soda into the street, which ultimately leads to the storm drains and creek, ice cream that sits stuck to the sidewalk or boardwalk for days, leaky trash cans and hosts of cigarette butts were just some of the items brought up by board members.
Trustee Casey McNulty observed “it’s more dirt and grime than trash. It’s terrible down there. It does stink down there. You get that three-week old dairy product on the curb and it smells horrible.”
His idea was for the town to hire a pressure washing company the way other towns, like Deadwood, do.
“With the amount of money that downtown is generating, why don’t we approach them on having them come out and pressure wash both sides of the street?”  he said.
He also suggested a fee for employee parking to cover the expense. McNulty was tasked with the responsibility of getting quotes from pressure washing companies.
Neff wants to continue to focus on “step one,” which for him is asking the cops to enforce the garbage can ordinance.
“The more garbage cans the more clean it is. So that’s step one for me,” he said.
Neff has pictures of garbage that has ended up in the creek and is happy to provide them to Plawman in an effort to get him to enforce the ordinance. Neff sees the garbage can problem as a “black and white” issue.
“Either you have one or you don’t,” he said. Neff said he prefers an officer enforce the ordinance as opposed to a board member or the town’s finance officer. However he offered no indication of how to make Plawman hand out violations.
Ultimately the trustees decided to speak with businesses in person. Either board members or the town’s finance officer will document the violation and give businesses three days in which to comply or risk a fine of $25 per day.
McLain, a business owner in town, is worried about the potential negative impacts the trash and grime will have on visitors to the area.
“All we’re trying to do is to get it to look wonderful so they’ll come back again,” she said.


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