2017-09-29 / Community

Neighboring town doesn’t like stickers on trash bins

By Michael Kelley
Staff Writer

For years, the town has attempted to control what residents put in their curbside solid waste and recycling bin stressing the recycling bin is for recyclable material and the solid waste cart for those items that can’t be recycled or composted.

Now the town may control what residents put on their containers.

The council last week held the first reading of an ordinance change to the Town of Scarborough Garbage and Recycling and Disposal Ordinance that would prohibit residents from putting stickers or paint on them to decorate, or differentiate them from other carts on the road.

The draft ordinance reads: “Residents may choose to mark their cart with the street address that the cart was assigned to for identification purposes. Under no circumstances should the carts be defaced by the use of markers, stickers or paint. A cart that has been defaced will be replaced at cost to the resident to whom the cart was assigned.”

Public Works Director Mike Shaw said in his most recent round of cart ordering, he purchased the 64-gallon carts (the standard size issued) for $45.88 each and the 96-gallon, issued by request, for $52.60 each.

The matter will be the topic of a public hearing Wednesday, Oct. 4.

Marking the carts has been a longstanding practice for some residents – town councilors included – to assist with identifying their carts after the solid waste and recycling have been collected.

Bay Street resident Susan Hamill said placing a sticker on a cart doesn’t harm the carts in any way and was angered the council was even taken the topic up.

Hamill lives on a street where many carts are crowded together a decal or sticker makes it “pretty easy and quick to identify which cart is yours.” A small mark of the address isn’t noticeable.

It will be an enforcement nightmare, she said, to have this on the books. Hamill wondered if the bins with stickers on them will be replace even if they work fine and who will be the one enforcing the ordinance: Pine Tree Waste, the town’s contracted hauler? The Department of Public Works?

“Already there are hundreds of bins out there that have stickers. I don’t know how you are going to deal with that,” she told councilors.

The impetus for the ordinance update came from a resident who complained their neighbor was using the cart to display political bumper stickers.

“They were promoting their candidate out on the curbside,” councilor and ordinance committee chairman Bill Do novan said at the Aug. 3 ordinance committee meeting before the group, which also includes Councilors Will Rowan and Kate St. Clair, unanimously voted to pass the topic onto the full council.

The concern, he said at the time, was if “one person starts to do it, then someone else will do it as a counter and then all of a sudden now every(body is).”

The carts belong to the town and are given to property owners to use for solid waste and recycling collection.

Councilor Chris Caiazzo said the fact the carts are public property “supersedes anybody’s individual right to put on what they feel like because it is in front of their home.”

“It is public property. We don’t put bumper stickers on our police cruisers, fire trucks or school buses.

The existing ordinance makes clear the carts are town property, but lacks any provision that bars decorating or defacing them. It does mention damaged or lost carts, will be replaced by the town for a fee, but doesn’t specify that figure.

“The solid waste ordinance doesn’t go into depth – it talks about ownership – but doesn’t talk specifically about any sort of decoration or specification of carts,” Shaw said.

Hall said at the Aug. 3 ordinance committee meeting that since the town does not collect solid waste and recycling on private ways, on their neighborhood collection day, those residents put all of their carts together along the nearest public way for collection and have taken to spray painting their address number on them.

“We see that as not offensive and a legitimate marking,” he said at the time.

Whether to amend the ordinance split the council at first reading Sept. 21 with councilors Peter Hayes, Katy Foley and St. Clair voting against it.

“I struggle with trying to rationalize in my head that we have a big issue or problem we are trying to solve,” Foley said. “I just feel we are trying to solve an issue that isn’t there.”

Donovan said the ordinance committee will visit the topic at its Sept. 28 meeting in advance of the Oct. 4 public hearing.

Staff Writer Michael Kelley can be reached at news@scarboroughleader.com.

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