The Dawson County Board of Commissioners last week approved an ordinance that will contribute to the health and safety of county citizens by helping to reduce habitats for mosquitoes and rodents to breed and spread disease.
The ordinance includes regulations for the proper storage and disposal methods of used and scrap tires within the county.
Improperly stored tires create habitats for insects and animals that spread diseases like yellow fever, Zika and more, according to Sandy Sawyer, a nurse at local Dr. Larry Anderson's practice.
"Mosquitos are the number one spreader of diseases in the world," Sawyer said during the second and final public hearing for the ordinance on June 15. "As we learned last year from Miami, we are at risk from travelers who get these diseases and bring them home and then it is spread through local mosquitos. If we can control the number of mosquitos, then we can control the possibility of spreading these diseases in Dawson County."
Emergency Services Chief Tim Satterfield in his presentation of the proposed ordinance on May 11 also cited the dangers of allowing water to pool in used tires, as well as other safety issues like fire risk and falling hazards.
The current draft of the ordinance states that all used tires, scrap tires and tire pieces stored within the county must be kept in a manner that prevents their exposure to and collection of the elements of nature. They must not be allowed to hold water, dirt, rubbish or other foreign materials.
Used tires must be stored separately, and if stored outside they must be screened from public view, properly stored, on racks or neatly stacked no higher than 10 feet in height, in a roll-off container front load-dumpster with a top or other metal storage container, including a trailer not exceeding 45 feet by 8 feet by 13 feet if covered, if the stacked tires do not exceed height of 12 feet and the container and contents are shielded from rainwater.
No more than two containers can be stored at any one used tire facility location.
If in violation, any person or entity found guilty can be subject to a fine or penalty of no less than $250 or more than $500. The exact amount for each case is to be set by the Dawson County court system.
Satterfield said that the proposed ordinance already seemed to be having an effect as several locations with what would be violations under the ordinance had already cleaned up the tires on their property before the final hearing.
District 3 Commissioner Jimmy Hamby asked if the ordinance would have any effect on the number of tires on wheels that could be displayed outside of businesses for advertising purposes during hours of operation.
Satterfield said that existing fire codes limit the number that can be outside of a building. He said the ordinance was meant only to address safety issues and not necessarily aesthetics.
County Attorney Lynn Frey recommended that if the commission wants to address tires being displayed outside stores from an aesthetic perspective, much like the guidelines that determine what size and other limitations on store signage, it would need to be done in a separate ordinance.
The ordinance was approved unanimously and is an amendment to the state-adopted mandatory 2012 International Fire Code, Chapter 34.