Click this banner to learn more

Connect to The Advocate

Steve Lundwall: Editorial 10-15-12

The folks at the Sam’s Creek Road Landfill Convenience Center do a tremendous job. I applaud their efforts. I know I wouldn’t want to do what they do. However, through an incorrect interpretation of state law and a rather brusk approach to their patrons, they are encouraging and promoting violations of one of the very laws they are supposed to be following.

This last Saturday I showed up with a pickup truck load of house hold trash. It was all bagged. The bags were tied shut. Any light stuff like cardboard was under these heavy bags. The garbage cans had lids on them. As soon as I showed up I was approached by one of the workers and told they wouldn’t unload because the load was not tarped. I asked for clarification. The woman told me that since it was over the top of the truck bed (I assume she meant side rails – anything in it is above the bed) it had to be tarped according to state law. I asked to see that ordinance in writing. She seemed to relish the chance to yell over to the office to “Bring another flyer!” While this was being delivered she also told me I was lucky that I had fully sealed lids on the garbage cans or they couldn’t take those either.

I was then told I’d have to leave, tarp the load and come back. So I asked the two people at that time if they were asking me to break the law by going back out onto the road with an untarped load? Of course, I wasn’t breaking the law which I’ll get to in a minute but they thought I was. I had to ask a couple of times, “Are you encouraging me to break the law by going back out on the road and do exactly what the law is trying to prevent?” The gentleman in charge finally understood that I wasn’t leaving until I got an answer and he said, “Yes.” Later that day I found out they did the same thing to a friend of mine that same morning.

The flyer says, “Motor vehicle…shall be required to have such materials in an enclosed space or fully covered by a tarpaulin. Private pickup truck load must be secured to reasonably ensure not to fall or blow off.” I checked the Cheatham county website and found the following:

The following regulations concerning securing loads will begin on June 25, 2012 at all Cheatham County Convenient Centers and the Sam’s Creek Landfill;

All commercial and for-hire pick-up trucks must have load secured with tarp.

All trailers must have load secured with a tarp.

All residential loads in truck bed must be secured with a tarp IF the load exceeds the level of the truck bed.

All residential loads below the level of the truck bed must be secured as to not allow load to blow off/out of truck.

All residential loads in trash cans must have lid secured on tightly.

These regulations are being enforced due to state mandates and all Convenient Center/Landfill Attendants reserve the right/discretion to identify a secure load

The problem is the state law doesn’t say what is in the flyer or what is on the website. It says,

39-14-507. Motor vehicles transporting litter.

(a) (1) Any motor vehicle that transports litter or any material likely to fall or be blown off onto the highways, shall be required to have such material either in an enclosed space or fully covered by a tarpaulin.

(2) If the motor vehicle is a noncommercial, not-for-hire pickup truck, this subsection (a) shall be construed to be complied with if the material on the noncommercial, not-for-hire pickup truck is secured in such a way as to reasonably ensure it will not fall or be blown off the vehicle.

This second paragraph is important. As long as the driver has made the effort “to reasonably ensure” that the items can’t fly out (bagged up and tied shut, heavy stuff on light stuff) and can’t fall out the load doesn’t have to be tarped. Everything I had was bagged and loaded in a pyramid format with the higher stuff in the center. Short of me getting hit by someone or practicing NASCAR style turns at 90 MPH, nothing in the bed of that truck was moving or going to fall out. It also says nothing about lids on garbage cans. Additionally, it says nothing about truck beds. ANYTHING in the back of a pickup truck is above the bed – that’s what it’s sitting on!!

Additionally, once I did return to get the load taken care of, they went through every bag of my garbage to make sure I wasn’t throwing away anything they couldn’t take. Other than a few feet of wire in one bag and a couple of sections of corrugated plastic drain pipe everything else was taken. They did NOT inspect the bags of the other three people who showed up to drop off while they were going through my things.

Now if someone truly does show up with a load that doesn’t follow the law, don’t send them back out on the road! Give them the flyer (corrected, I hope), and take down the license number if needed and tell them the next time they will have to run it across the scales and pay for its removal. But don’t send them back out on the road! It seems our county is interpreting this law in an incorrect, confusing and cupreous manner that wastes gas, time and good will and doing so in a way that exacerbates the problem rather than fixes it. They are also enforcing it in a discriminatory manner by not handling all people the same way. Once again, those folks do a tremendous job – one I don’t want to do. But they shouldn’t be encouraging people to break the law resulting in the very damage the law is intended to prevent, they should follow the law as written- not as it is misinterpreted and shown on the website – and they should enforce it consistently. There is nothing about truck beds or garbage can lids in the law. As long as it is reasonably sure not to blow out or fall off – we are following the law even without a tarp and the county needs to start following it.

Steve Lundwall

Kingston Springs, TN

Leave a Reply