MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - While there is no current hard data, officials in Rutherford County said there is a noticeable increase of illegal dumping in Murfreesboro.
One recent Murfreesboro police report stated a man operating a tree cutting business out of his home had been illegally dumping the debris for at least five times.
He's accused of leaving 5,000 pounds of tree waste behind a restaurant on NW Broad Street and leaving the responsibility of cleaning it up to the property owner.
Rutherford County Solid Waste Spokesperson Hannah Bleam confirmed the business owner was also cut off from using the city's solid waste site.
"He's been told to not come bring his business debris because he's been caught dumping illegally. The site for mulching is only for residential use and he has his own private business," said Bleam.
Business owners can bring the debris to the county's landfill and pay a fee. Bleam said with the capacity of the landfill dwindling, prices are going up.
It is $30 per ton for businesses to use the Rutherford County Landfill, which currently accepts only tires and brush. The first 2,000 pounds is free for residents.
Bleam said the issue is accompanied by the growth in the county.
"Sometimes with the smaller businesses, they'll try to find any way to save extra money," added Bleam. "It's hard for a government to really know whether it's coming from a resident or a business, especially if they have a vehicle not marked with a business name."
The recent illegal dumping case is the first to be on a police report, according to Bleam.
It will also likely be the first case to enter Rutherford County's first Environmental Court, which started this month.
Environmental Court is designed to deal strictly with local environmental issues such as illegal dumping, neglected property, safety and health code violations, animal control, and illegal burning.
Bleam said the current environmental laws are not being changed through the establishment of environmental court.
Depending on the case, the person cited can face anywhere between $50 and $2,000.
Environmental Court is a division of General Sessions Court and will be held on the first Wednesday of every month at 1 p.m.