Town gets serious about garbage

The Town’s Code of Ordinances was amended last Thursday to address solid waste as it applies to bear-resistant toters and water and sewer allowances outside of town.

The Code of Ordinances is not the same as the Unified Development Ordinance which applies mainly to zoning and land use and as such must undergo a public hearing before amended. 

The Code of Ordinances, however, can be amended and passed by the Town Board without a public hearing because they have penalties associated with them which means noncompliance can be assessed by the Code Enforcement Officer with infractions punished monetarily.

The change to the Solid Waste section of the Code of Ordinances was spurred to curtail the town’s bear problems and to address the workmen’s comp issues the town has been experiencing due to the physical act of picking up residential and commercial trash cans.

What concerned two citizens who spoke during the public comment period at the Town Board meeting was money already spent on bear-proof garbage enclosures and the size and weight of the required bear-resistant toters.

Nina Burke said she had spent $1,500 on a bear-proof enclosure in which she puts her garbage cans and Alice Nelson said maneuvering 64- and 96-gallon bear-resistance toters to the bottom of their drive was not possible for her and her husband.

Mayor Pat Taylor said Burke’s bear-proof enclosure was fine as long as it could be opened and the cans had both toter bars and wheels so they could be rolled out and lifted mechanically by the garbage truck. In her case she wouldn’t need bear-resistant toters – just toters with bars and wheels – since she keeps them in a bear-proof enclosure.

When Nelson learned there were 33-gallon bear-resistant toters available she felt they would be able to load them into the back of their pick-up truck and drive them to the end of the driveway for pickup.

In a nutshell, commercial customers have until Jan. 1, 2020 to either purchase bear-resistant toters with bars or rent them from the town. All dumpsters are to be removed from the town rights-of way. If a bear-resistant enclosure is used to house garbage receptacles, permission must be had first from the town.

If not in a bear-resistance enclosure, toters must be bear-resistant. Refuse not in the proper container will not be picked up by the sanitation crew nor will the crew pick up trash spewed on the street by animals.

Residential customers have until Aug. 1 to move to bear-resistance toters or toters which can be rolled out of a bear-proof enclosure and lifted mechanically into the garbage trucks.

In addition, toters – bear-resistant or otherwise – may not be more than 100 lbs.; all waste must be bagged – no loose garbage can be put in receptacles, and no loose bags can be put on the streets. Violations are punishable by a civil penalty of $50 for each offense.

Water Connections

The town has been getting requests for water and sewer hookups outside the town limits as well as requests to be annexed to get town services.

Years ago, Highlands town fathers OK’d water to developments outside the town limits, but that practice has long been over. Except for the H-C Hospital complex, sewer hookups outside the corporate limits of the town have never been allowed and that rule stands.

Currently, only in-town residents and nonresidents served by town water from a previous agreement with the Town Board can have town water. The only way to get town water outside the town limits is to be voluntarily or involuntarily annexed.

However, annexation doesn’t guarantee town services – water, sewer or utilities. The town must OK extending those services and will only do so if it is in the public interest and isn’t a financial burden to the town. Furthermore, homeowners must shoulder the costs of “meeting” the town lines whether within the corporate limits or annexed.

Amendments to the Code of Ordinances were unanimously accepted and are in affect immediately.

Pictured at the top of the article are bear-resistant toters soon to be mandatory for Town solid waste customers.

By Kim Lewicki

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