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The junk trucks that circulate through Evanston alleys collecting unwanted scrap metal and other refuse may soon face tighter restrictions and requirements stemming from an ordinance introduced by City Council on July 23. But a request to pass the ordinance immediately by suspending the rules that require two readings at two separate meetings failed. This means the ordinance could face another round of debate and possible amendment at the next Council meeting, scheduled for Aug. 13.
According to a memo from City staff, the ordinance regulating junk dealers has not been updated since 1985 and makes only vague distinctions among operators of junk wagons, premises of junk yards and the junk trucks themselves.
The proposed new ordinance came about after Alderman Coleen Burrus, 9th Ward, said she noticed overloaded junk trucks parked overnight on Custer Avenue. When she called the police to have citations issued, she was told that the trucks were not in violation of any existing ordinance and therefore there were no tickets to write. “The vehicle has to be in motion,” said Richard Eddington, Chief of Police.
Alderman Ann Rainey, 8thWard, objected to the use of “wagon,” calling the word archaic and a leftover from the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. She suggested changing “wagon” to “truck.” Ald. Burrus, saying that she wanted to avoid “junk vans,” suggested “vehicle” instead. The amendment passed easily.
Alderman Jane Grover, 7th Ward, questioned the need to suspend the rules to pass the ordinance immediately. “Is there any urgency?” Her question went unanswered.
Overloaded trucks and parking commercial vehicles on City streets were not the only issues discussed. Alderman Delores Holmes, 5th Ward, said junk trucks occasionally pick up items that were not meant to be picked up. “That would include the basketball hoop behind my garage,” said Ald. Grover. She added, however, that junk trucks provide a valuable service to Evanston residents by disposing of unwanted items.
If passed, the law will define “junk peddler” to include scrap collectors and not just purchasers and sellers. It will make clear that there is no “junk wagon operator” license – all junk wagon drivers must be either junk peddlers or junk dealers. Already required by Illinois law to have a driver’s license and valid insurance, junk-truck drivers would also be required to do so by the Evanston ordinance.
Junk trucks will be prohibited from parking on residential streets overnight. A name, address and telephone number will now be required on every junk truck “in letters at least 2 inches tall,” according to the ordinance. Collection will be restricted to between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. every day.
The license fees will remain the same – $313 annually for junk dealers (junk yards or junk stores); $38 for peddlers (including most junk-truck operators) and $94 for secondhand or antique dealers. A new penalties section will impose fines, from $50 to $500 for violations, and establish criteria for suspension or revocation of licenses.
The matter returns for what will probably be a final vote on Aug. 13.