With COVID on the rise, Highlands’ rental business is booming and the real estate market is changing. Vacationers, short-term renters, and new homeowners have decided to escape quarantine in their home states and make Highlands their destination.
However, according to Leah McCall with the Highlands Police Department, it’s clear that this influx of new people is not aware of Highlands’ town ordinances.
“One issue that has become problematic is that of proper garbage disposal,” she said.
Over the last year, and most recently at the Nov. 19 Town Board meeting, the board voted unanimously to amend its Code of Ordinances.
Specifically, Section 12-2 of the Highlands Town Ordinances that describes garbage receptacles and specifically the way garbage is to be presented was amended. This was a result of overflowing receptacles being left on the street, which makes the point of a bear-resistant toter moot.
“The ordinance states that all waste is to be bagged and placed in an approved receptacle or container,” said McCall. “The container lid must then be secured with the manufacturer’s mechanism. Failure to do so shall be punishable by a civil penalty of fifty dollars ($50) for each offense as covered in Section 12-14.”
The ordinance reads – “It shall be the duty of every person in possession, charge, or control of any place in or from which business trash, foreign material, garbage, household trash, industrial waste, tree trimmings, and yard trash is created, accumulated, or produced, to provide and at all times to keep in a suitable place readily accessible to the city collection crews or private collection agencies, adequate and suitable receptacles and containers capable of holding all such waste materials which would ordinarily accumulate between the times of successive collections. The owner of any multifamily apartment shall furnish or require his tenants to furnish proper waste receptacles and containers.”
“All waste is to be bagged and placed in an approved receptacle or container and the lid must be secured by using the manufacturers locking mechanism, failure to do so shall result in penalties described in Section 12-14.”
The part of the ordinance that was amended last year and went into effect for residents August 2020 is Section 12-3. It describes the type of containers that are approved and specifically that they must be bear-resistant.
“Commercial customers were to comply with this ordinance by January 1, 2020,” said McCall. “Residential customers should have complied by August 1, 2020.”
The required bear-resistant receptacles are available at Reeves Hardware in Highlands, other hardware stores in Franklin and online.
“We are not going to sit back and see Highlands literally get trashed by a few individuals who do not want to take responsibility for properly disposing the garbage they generate,” said Mayor Pat Taylor.
Trash collection days in Highlands can be confusing for new homeowners and visitors renting AirBnBs or VRBOs.
Areas north and west of US 64 are picked up on Mondays and Thursdays. Areas north and east of Horse Cove are also picked up on Mondays and Thursdays.
For example: Hickory Hill, Mirror Lake, Cullasaja Drive, Big Bear Pen and Bowery roads are all collected on Mondays and Thursdays.
Of course, there are a few exceptions to every rule.
In an effort to make some pickups more efficient, Naiad Road, Mount Lori Drive, a few homes on Leonard Street, a few homes on South 6th Street and a few homes on Gibson Street are also picked up on Mondays and Thursdays.
All other areas are collected Tuesdays and Fridays.
For example: All of NC 106, Helens Barn, NC 28 and the Highlands School area are all collected on Tuesdays and Fridays.
Trash cans must be in front of residences on the side of the road before 7:30 a.m. The drivers cannot turn around and come back to get garbage if it is put it out late.
Wednesdays are reserved for commercial pickup and maintenance.
Owners of area rentals have been notified of the garbage collection/presentation requirements and have been instructed to pass the information on to their renters.
“Western North Carolina is a beautiful destination for visitors and a wonderful place to live for those of us lucky enough to do so,” said McCall. “If we all do our part by following our ordinances, we can keep our mountains beautiful for many years to come.”
Pictured at the top of the article is a Highlands sanitation crew using a mechanical arm to dump a bear-resistant toter into the truck along their route downtown.
By Kim Lewicki, Highlands Newspaper