city pagesNews

City Pages

A new policy requiring businesses and apartment complexes to provide recycling for customers and tenants will be approved at the Athens-Clarke Commission’s Nov. 7 meeting, commissioners said last Thursday.

The policy had been tabled twice, most recently in May, to address the concerns of waste haulers and multifamily property owners. An ad hoc committee of Mayor Nancy Denson and four commissioners ironed out the wrinkles, including simply removing the word “mandatory,” although it remains mandatory.

“This ordinance is so overdue for our community,” Commissioner Kathy Hoard said.

Already, an apartment complex behind Hoard’s Springdale Street home has replaced one of three trash receptacles with one for recycling, and it’s stuffed full, she said. “The students are excited about using it,” she said. “I think there’s a lot of support for this ordinance.”

Business owners and property managers have until May 2013 to comply with the law. If for some reason they can’t, the solid waste department director can give them a waiver.

The policy is part of an effort to increase the amount of trash diverted from the landfill to 40 percent by 2015, 60 percent by 2018 and 75 percent by 2020. Other measures include converting the county recycling facility to single-stream and a small fee that goes toward recycling education programs.

The commission is also considering limiting the number of private haulers that can do business in Athens. ACC collects garbage inside the old city limits, but not in what used to be unincorporated Clarke County. Twelve haulers in Athens pick up trash and recycling from 13,140 houses and 387 businesses, according to the Solid Waste Department. A moratorium on new haulers has been in place since last November. The law would cap the number of haulers that can operate in Athens to eight for residential pickup and seven for commercial pickup.

The cap grew out of suburban residents’ concerns about multiple trucks from several companies driving up and down their streets. The commission considered allowing just one hauler per neighborhood, but abandoned the idea after haulers and other residents objected.

Capping the number of haulers will preserve streets and put an end to the “Wild West routine” of fly-by-night haulers undercutting each other and going out of business owing ACC thousands of dollars in franchise fees, Commissioner Kelly Girtz said.

A representative of Waste Management urged the commission not to pass the cap. The company wants to move into Athens with clean-burning, natural gas-powered trucks and can offer expertise on recycling, she said. The company won’t be barred from doing business in Athens, Girtz noted, because existing haulers can sell their franchises to new ones.

An easement to connect a planned Hyatt Place hotel to the Classic Center next door is also set for approval Nov. 7, as are yellow-curb parking restrictions on Hill, West Rutherford, South Church and Fifth streets. The meeting will be on a Wednesday night, rather than the usual Tuesday, due to the election.