City of Gastonia Amends Ordinance to Increase Penalties for Littering

Woman about to drop empty bottle from car window

The Gastonia City Council approved an ordinance to increase the penalties for littering at its March 2 meeting to support a state House Bill and discourage littering. The revised ordinance goes into effect immediately and if any citations are issued for violation of the littering ordinance, the new penalty levels apply.

“While littering ordinances are a challenge to enforce almost anywhere in the country,” said Juliann Lehman, director of Keep Gastonia Beautiful. “We need to help all citizens, organizations, and businesses meet the challenge to reduce or eliminate litter on our streets and other public areas. A clean area is also considered to be a safe area.”

Keep Gastonia Beautiful (KGB), the City’s not-for-profit organization, is doing its part to help by sponsoring the Adopt-A-Street Program, which encourages citizens to adopt a street or portion of a street to clean every two months. The City will also promote the Great American Cleanup (March 20-June 20) and also contracts with Trinity Hands, an organization that helps pick up litter. Last year the company collected 3,600 45-pound bags of litter around the City and on highways.

“We are seeing an increase in litter around the City and on highways,” said Dale Denton director of Public Works. “And we think it may be due to the pandemic, where more people are eating take-out meals and also an overall increase in traffic to our City.”

New littering penalties under the ordinance: 
                                                                      Old Penalty              New Penalty

First Offense < 15 lbs.                                 $100                             $200

Subsequent offenses <15 lbs.                   $250                             $400

First Offenses 15+ lbs.                                $200                             $400

Subsequent offenses 15+ lbs.                   $300                             $600

The North Carolina General Assembly introduced House Bill 100 that would increase the penalties for violating the criminal littering statue, G.S. 14-399. The City’s revisions to its littering ordinance are based in part on the pending language of HB 100.

“We hope the increase in fines will have people thinking twice before they litter, and we urge everyone to take action by cleaning their corner, street, stream or trail,” said Lehman.

For more information about how you can get involved with Keep Gastonia Beautiful, contact Juliann Lehman at 704-866-6906 or visit their webpage.