City to change ordinance to fight rodent problem

Sunday Times Newspapers

WYANDOTTE — The City Council presented a change to an ordinance that it hoped would deter the increasing rodent presence around the Downriver area.

The amendment would require trash placed out for collection to be put in a metal, or “approved equal material,” container with a “tight-fitting cover” to prevent rodents or other animals from gaininig access to its contents.

The requirements for the container also include capacity restrictions — up to 32 gallons — and a 60-pound maximum weight restriction.

The proposed change came from conversations Mayor Joseph Peterson had with council members and residents in the past. He said the big problems they addressed involve rodents and the placement of full garbage bags.

Peterson said many residents commented that garbage bags are being thrown out onto the lawn and are not in proper containers, which allows the rodents easier access to a potential food source.

The city spent “quite a bit of money and worked hard” to control the rodent problem, he said, and the amendment is aimed to create a “longer-term” solution to the problem. He said the amendment is aimed at maintaining a quality of life the residents expect.

“These residents have legitimate complaints and these problems are bringing the rats into those areas because they feed off the available trash,” he said. “To sit back and allow this to continue would be a disservice to the community.

“If we do nothing, that will only cause the problem to get worse. The point of this ordinance is not to have trash bags just laying on the ground because we had a major rat problem, finally got it under control, and now this is the next logical step.”

Trash containers will be available for lease through the Engineering Department at a cost of $2 per month. The ordinance would take effect February 1. Peterson said this will allow time for people to understand reasoning behind the changes and what will be required of them.

“We have to start fighting this problem as a team,” Peterson said. “If the city and residents don’t work together to solve this problem, it will never be solved. This is a way to continue to have a clean Wyandotte and not a way to make money. We make no money from leasing the containers.”

Councilman David Galeski said the ordinance was a good start, but wanted the city to educate residents on all the reasons rats appear because “we know that rats don’t just come out on garbage day.”

He said rats are attracted to the fruit that fall from apple trees, stagnant swimming pools, animal waste, and other debris that is left in a resident’s yard. He wanted residents to be aware of the factors attracting rodents to the city and correct them.

Other council members agreed the change requiring the use of the rented containers had potential to make it easier for people to take out the trash because of the mobility of the containers offered by the city. They emphasized residents are not required to lease a trash container from the city and can purchase their own at any hardware store.

Any fees for non-compliance with the new ordinance were addressed by the council, but there is no specific fee yet.

City Engineer Mark Kowalewski said any violation would be treated like other ordinance infractions and the individual would be warned then issued a civil infraction. He said the fee associated with the infraction would be determined by a judge and could range anywhere from no fine to $500.

“This is not meant to hurt anyone’s pocketbooks or cause problems.” Peterson said. “Fines are the last thing anyone wants to do because we know residents don’t have the money to just throw away. This is just trying to make it a better place to live, so we can live without the infestation of rats or other rodents.”

(Gabriel Goodwin can be reached at