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Litter Control and Roadside Debris Removal Program

Enduring Litter

Litter along the roadside is ugly. How long it will stay before decaying may be an ugly surprise. Citizens are encouraged to assist the DPW&T and Maryland SHA in maintaining and improving the visual landscape of our roadsides. Litter just doesn't appear—it's a result of careless attitudes and improper waste handling. It is time we entered a new era of environmental responsibility, especially in terms of litter reduction.

Common Sense Solutions

In everyday living, litter is something that pollutes or disturbs the natural environment of someone's home or neighborhood. Many every day actions or situations harm the visual or general well being of our community and contribute to the litter problem of a neighborhood. Set an example for others, especially for children, by not littering. Communication and organization can go a long way to preventing litter from becoming a problem in or community. Creating awareness through newsletters or meetings that emphasize simple courtesies is an important beginning. Reducing waste, recycling, local cleanups, proper trash disposal and talking to your neighbors about litter problems can foster community pride and sense of civic awareness. The DPW&T Solid Waste Division, (301) 475-4200 can provide articles and information suitable for inclusion in community newsletters.

Roadside Litter

An obvious cause of litter in the community is the pedestrian or motorist who tosses litter on the road, roadside, sidewalk or yard. All motorists should carry and use car litter bags. Remember, the operator/owner is responsible for litter dropped, thrown from the vehicle or placed onto a public roadway. It is also illegal to drive with an unsecured load. Allowing items to fall from the back of a vehicle is equal to tossing trash out of a car window. If litter is seen coming from a vehicle, the owner or operator of the vehicle can be held accountable. Littering is against the law and litterers can be prosecuted. In most cases, the offense is considered a misdemeanor which prevents a sheriff deputy, unless a witness to the violation, from taking direct enforcement action against a possible offender. An officer cannot issue a citation based on an individual complaint. Depending on what extent a citizen wishes to pursue the offense, littering offenses can be reported in several ways which may result in the assessment of up to 2 points against the offender(s).

In St. Mary's County, legal responsibility for many roads lies with the Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA). Specific requests along State Roads (ie. MD 4, MD 235, MD 237, MD 236, MD 5..) can be reported directly to the SHA office in Loveville at (301) 475-8035. This includes construction, repairs, mowing, plowing and litter pick up. Reduced State budgets and increased demands have forced the SHA to prioritize operations along safety issues. As such, litter pick up, unless a safety issue, is a lower priority in their scheme of operations. The County DPW&T will respond to pick up requests on an "as resources allow" basis. Specific requests can be reported to us at (301) 863-8400.

Eviction Assistance

As of December 2008, the State Highway Administration (SHA) will no longer be providing eviction assistance to the Office of the Sheriff along St. Mary's County roadways maintained by the State which they had a long-standing practice of providing. Based on the Attorney General's Office "Landlord and Tenants" handbook, it is the responsibility of the evicted party to remove the material from the right-of-way, and if they do not, it is the local jurisdictions responsibility. SHA records indicate they assisted with approximately 75 evictions per year. Likewise, the DPW&T County Highways Division has historically provided eviction assistance (75-100 cases per year) to the St. Mary's County Office of the Sheriff for landlords that own property along County-maintained roadways. Effective July 1, 2009, in cases where an actual eviction takes place, the landlord will be instructed by the Sheriff to remove the all personal property of the tenant from inside the dwelling and place it outside of the dwelling. The personal property shall not be placed in the roadway right-of-way, but on the property for 24 hours in order to give the tenant an opportunity to claim their belongings. All landlords will be instructed up front that if the abandoned property remains on the property for more than 24 hours that it is their responsibility to remove it or be subject to a charge of littering, which is a criminal offense.


Citizens, whose properties face sidewalks or strips between streets and sidewalks, are responsible for keeping these areas free of litter. It is also unlawful to simply push litter from these areas into the streets.

Work Release & Community Services Program

In accordance with Section 109 of the St. Mary's County Code, the Sheriff shall deliver any eligible program participant ("prisoner") over sixteen (16) and under fifty (50) years of age to the Department of Public Works & Transportation. The DPW&T has the power and authority to employ and or otherwise utilize the individual(s) in the performance of various duties for the Department such as litter pick-up. The duration of each day's labor is at the discretion of the supervisor, but cannot exceed ten (10) hours during any given day. The County utilizes Work Incentive incarcerated individuals, if available, to assist in this effort via a Work Incentive Agreement with the Corrections Division Community Supervision Unit of the Sheriff of St. Mary's County. Staffing does not always allow the Sheriff's Department to provide supervision and the DPW&T Foremen are requested to perform this function. A deputy, officer or other person having such individuals in charge is responsible for the safety and return of the individual to the custody of the Sheriff at the end of each day. In addition, Community Service volunteers are provided by the State's Attorney for St. Mary's County who are required to report to the Public Works office for their daily work assignment(s). This program helps to eliminate overcrowding in jails, places the burden on the criminal rather than the taxpayer, is cost effective for the County, and aids in litter control.

Animal Carcass Disposal

In accordance with the County's approved Department of the Environment Refuse Disposal Permit for the St. Andrews Municipal Landfill, animal carcasses are specifically prohibited from being accepted at the site for disposal. When a large or small "1079", dead animal, is reported to the Department a road maintenance foreman is advised of the location and instructed to immediately bury the carcass. The type and quantity of the reports varies seasonally. Burial requires careful site selection because a carcass decomposes, becomes unsightly and creates a gathering location for vermin. Care is taken to assure the location provides adequate worker safety. As a general rule, burial should not occur in areas with a high groundwater table or in close proximity to lakes, streams, wetlands or wells. In addition, precautionary measures discourage direct handling of the carcasses by employees, as the animal(s) health is not known. Incineration is not practiced as a means of disposal at this time. To address this need, the County is supporting, and plans to fund, it's share of a crematorium facility at the Tri-County animal shelter in Hughesville. In the interim, foremen are required to deliver the carcass to the Appeal Facility in Calvert County.