Denison considers 'dumpster diving' ordinance

Michael Hutchins
Herald Democrat
A decorated dumpster sets in an alley in downtown Denison. The city council is expected to consider an ordinance that would tighten restrictions against dumpster diving.

Denison City Leaders hope a new solid waste ordinance will help solve recent problems with dumpster diving behind businesses.

The City Council is slated to consider amendments to the ordinance aimed at giving it teeth and providing police with enforcement authority. The ordinance is expected to be discussed when the council meets at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Denison City Hall.

"Up until we pass this ordinance, the police department hasn't really had any enforcement teeth to enforce that, so we are going to add that to the solid waste ordinance," Interim City Manager Bobby Atteberry said.

The issue with dumpster diving has been a recurring concern for many merchants, who are startled when they find people behind their businesses sorting through the what the business owners believe is trash. Beyond these concerns, Atteberry said there are also safety issues at hand.

The people sorting through the dumpsters are primarily salvagers who are looking for items that they can resell, he said.

As an example, Atteberry said the city encountered salvagers during the recent remodel of city hall. Crews would regularly bring out metal studs or other items and dispose of them in large industrial dumpsters.

"When we were redoing city hall, the contractor told me he would have a large dumpster out here and he would put material out there," he said. "He said he would come out at the end of the day and find an empty dumpster."

Later on, the contractor encountered the salvagers, who were using large trucks to transport the materials away.

Atteberry said the city is currently working to revitalize and renew downtown through projects like the ongoing Designing Downtown Denison improvements.  As construction crews work to improve Main Street itself, the ordinance represents other efforts by the city to improve the look of the city's core.

"With the main street investments and construction we are about to have underway, we want to have a great environment and this is just one of the steps to create that," Atteberry said.