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Explaining the Trash Can Ordinance

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By Michael Herman, Mayor

In recent weeks, there has been confusion about the trash ordinance and compliance with it.While the requirement to use trash cans with tight fitting lids has been part of the town code for years, six months ago the town council unanimously agreed to amendments specifying that cans not exceed 39-gallon capacity. In addition, it was no longer acceptable to put household trash in containers other than trashcans.However, yard waste may be put in a receptacle or in the clear plastic bags available at town hall for ten cents each.Also, heavy trash or waste metals may be put to the curb without container, just as they have been for years.

The reason for the amendment was to prevent animals from causing litter and health hazards in our community.Cans without lids have consistently attracted birds, raccoons, possum, dogs, cats, and even rats. Plastic bags are not strong enough to deter animals. We also wanted to minimize potential contact between West Nile virus-infected crows and domestic pets or humans. Cans over 39-gallon capacity can be too heavy to safely lift manually, causing potential injury to staff.

At my direction, Public Works staff issued warning notices to homes where trash was not being put out in acceptable containers.Residents were notified of the requirements and given an opportunity to obtain proper trashcans.These containers may be purchased at Home Depot or Lowe's for under $10.

Unfortunately, a number of residents who received warnings did not correct the problem, or delayed too long.The result was over 70 residents received code violations.There are some concerns about the issuance of violations some weeks after the infraction.We are working to minimize the delay, but the entire objective is compliance.It is my sincere hope that no resident receives a violation because we have 100% compliance in town. Citizens may view picture documentation regarding their code violations from 1:00-2:00 p.m. on Saturdays at the Police Department at 5004 Queensbury Road.

Given the concern of lids that blow away, I have directed Public Works staff to reseal cans after trash has been collected, minimizing the possibility of lost lids.The system is not perfect, but it is the best possible under the circumstances. Please label your lids with your address to help us return wind-strewn lids.

In light of concerns about recent enforcement efforts, I directed our staff to inquire about the possibility of obtaining "toters," large cans on wheels, for every home in the community.The advantage of toters is that they have an affixed flap making them animal proof when closed, and lids will not blow away or become detached.We are exploring the costs of such a program, and also researching whether grants are available to offset the cost.Toters vary in size, durability and cost, and range anywhere from $43 to over $60 per can. Based on preliminary estimates, the minimum cost to obtain one per household, even for the least expensive model is about $45,000.

As we seek to address the best way to dispose of our trash, I still want to implore you to recycle materials.Too much trash is still put to the curb that contains metal cans, glass and plastic bottles, newspapers, metals, plastics, and other recyclable materials. This costs the taxpayers more money in landfill fees and is bad for the environment.Please put all recyclables at the curb on Wednesdays.Mixed paper (i.e., cardboard, etc.) may be dropped off at Public Works every Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

On a separate note, the entire council and I wish all of you and your families a safe and happy holiday season. Whether you celebrate Kwaanza, Christmas, Chanukkah, Ramadan or any other holiday, may the spirit of the season be with you at this joyous time of year.

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