Trash pick up times narrowed by commission vote

A commissioner called a new waste removal policy a "nightmare" at the Jan. 23 Mount Pleasant City Commission meeting.

Commissioners voted 4-3 to approve a motion to amend the city’s solid waste ordinance, despite protests from local business owners and waste removal officials. 

The new ordinance will limit garbage pickup time in residential areas and adjacent commercial areas to no earlier than 7 a.m. and no later than 8 p.m. The amendment was proposed after residents complained about the noise of garbage trucks in the morning. Exemptions due to “undue hardship or unusual circumstances” will be accepted from waste haulers and businesses that apply.

The ordinance will take effect 30 days after the approval. The previous ordinance had no time requirements for trash pickup. 

Commissioner Jim Holton has been an outspoken critic of the ordinance in the past and voted against the motion.

“This is cumbersome on staff. It’s cumbersome on businesses, and the exemption policy is going to be a nightmare,” Holton said.

Petro Tolas, owner of Tolas Oil & Gas Exploration, said the city has attempted to implement similar ordinances in the past and that the new ordinance is a waste of time.

“There’s just no way we can do this,” Tolas said. “This didn’t work 15 or 20 years ago so why do you think it’s going to work now? We shouldn’t try to reinvent the wheel here.”

Vice Mayor Allison Quast-Lents said that she understood the concerns of businesses, but she has to show concern for citizens too. She added that since Tolas’ business is not adjacent to a residential area, he shouldn’t be impacted by the change.

Representatives from waste removal companies said the new ordinance would unfairly impact their operations in Mount Pleasant, and that it would not be cost effective to reroute trucks to accommodate it.

Phil Mikus of Granger Trash said the change could, “and probably will,” impede the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of refuse removal.

“It’s important in some areas to arrive before 7 a.m. in order to avoid traffic and parking lots that can block access to containers,” Mikus said. “A blanket prohibition to restrict trash removal services before 7 a.m. unfairly restricts one industry.”

Republic Services Municipal Services Manager Matt Biolette said the ordinance would cause economic harm and could create safety concerns.

“When you have to maneuver around vehicles we increase risk factors dramatically,” Biolette said. “Those risks will result in property damage or could result in a small child or member of the general populace running out in front of a truck that they can’t see.”

Commissioner Lori Gillis supported the motion and said the commission has held several public hearings and work sessions to agree on the issue.

“I have been awakened at 4:30 a.m. by dumpsters being unloaded," she said. "We have tried every way to accommodate this issue and I really think this (ordinance) is a good fit.”