YORKTOWN, N.Y. - The Town Board unanimously approved an amendment to the town code that will penalize motorists who are caught on camera littering.
Under the amendment, cameras will be installed at littering “hot spots” throughout town. If the camera catches the license plate number of an offender, the owner of the vehicle will be fined, similar to the red light camera laws used in some towns to detect speeding and failure to stop at right lights.
According to town attorney Mike McDermott, this will be the only type of law in the country.
At a June 21 public hearing, prior to making its vote, the Town Board heard what residents of Yorktown had to say about the law.
There were some questions about how the law would be followed through, as the board was not able to speak as to what kind of cameras would be used, the cost of the cameras, and how footage would be surveilled.
Resident Susan Siegel asked the board whether the cameras would be triggered somehow or if there would be someone assigned to monitor the footage.
Councilman Greg Bernard, the traffic safety liaison, said the details will be ironed out later and the amendment was a necessary first step.
“This is a framework to enable us to enact what we want to do,” Bernard said. “Then, after tonight, those other details will be worked out.”
Siegel suggested that was short-sighted.
“In general, I believe more research needs to be done before voting on the law,” she said. “It’s sort of like putting the cart before the horse or jumping before you figure out how you’re going to land.”
For others, the littering issue is so urgent, they don’t care if the execution of law has been planned yet, they just appreciate that something is being done.
“We are being dumped on, certainly, we see it every day,” resident Tony Grasso said. “We have to start somewhere. This certainly is a good start. We would like to see this legislation passed and then from there on work out all the details.”
Resident Howard Frank asked that graffiti be included in the proposed amendment because, he said, it has become a problem in town as well. McDermott said he is in the process of working on a separate graffiti law; however, due to legal technicalities it cannot be included in the litter camera code.
“The [cameras] take the [license] plate,” Councilman Ed Lachterman said. “Most graffiti artists don’t drive.”
With the amendment in place, the Town Board hopes that the issues will be resolved. It has a general plan how the cameras will be implemented, starting with where they will be placed.
“We know certain roads have chronic issues so they will be the roads that are targeted,” Supervisor Michael Grace said. “We will focus on those chronic spots and hopefully catch a few people and that will put an end to it.”