Proposal to ban mixing yard waste with garbage

January 30, 1994|By Donna E. Boller | Donna E. Boller,Staff Writer

Carroll residents wouldn't be allowed to put their grass clippings and leaves into landfill-bound garbage under a proposed ordinance change supported by a majority of the county commissioners.

But the commissioners say they will rely on voluntary compliance rather than try to enforce the requirement that yard waste be placed in the mulching area at the northern landfill in Reese and kept out of the cells where refuse is buried.

The county uses the mulched material in gardening and offers it free to anyone interested.

The ban on mixing grass clippings, leaves, prunings, plants, shrubs and trimmings from from small trees with garbage is contained in proposed amendments to the county ordinance governing solid waste collection. The amendments also would allow the commissioners to make recycling mandatory.

Commissioners Donald I. Dell and Elmer C. Lippy say they will vote for the amendments, but both say they have no plans to take the next step -- enacting mandatory recycling -- unless the county's recycling percentage falls below the state-mandated 15 percent. Commissioner Julia W. Gouge was not available for comment.

The county's recycling percentage for November, the most recent period for which statistics were available, was 17.8 percent.

Mr. Dell indicated that he is in no hurry to act on the ordinance amendments, despite the lapse of 2 1/2 months since a public hearing. The hearing Nov. 8 attracted about 10 people, most of them refuse haulers opposed to mandatory recycling.

"I'm not real excited about it. I'd just as soon wait till we need [mandatory recycling]," Mr. Dell said. "Since we have had a public hearing on it, I guess it would look kind of silly not to adopt it."

The commissioners are waiting for the county attorney to rewrite the section on yard waste. Mr. Dell said he found the wording unclear.

Mr. Dell's suggested language for the section: "After Jan. 1, 1994, the county commissioners will ban yard waste from all dumping cells. The county will receive yard waste at the northern landfill composting facility. . . . The county commissioners will not impose a tipping fee for yard waste at this time. The county may set a tipping fee equal to operating costs."

County Attorney Charles W. Thompson Jr. could not be reached last week for comment on when he might have revised language ready for the commissioners to consider.

Mr. Lippy conceded that the county is unlikely to detect leaves or grass clippings mingled with trash unless a weigh master at the landfill notices it.

"That's one of my objections to making it mandatory," Mr. Lippy said. "It would require an Inspector Clouseau of yard waste."

Mr. Dell's proposal to waive the tipping fee for yard waste is intended to provide an incentive for county residents and refuse tTC haulers. "If they understand they'll have to pay for that weight, the incentive is there for everyone" to separate yard waste, he said.

The county landfill tipping fee is $4 for cars and $40 a ton for refuse-hauling trucks.

Vinnie Legge, the county recycling manager, said that if residents separate yard waste from trash, haulers would be required by state regulations to pick up the yard waste separately.

She said that she doesn't have plans for a public education program if the commissioners ban yard waste from garbage but that the county has a flier available on alternative uses for yard waste.

Some incorporated towns have anticipated the commissioners' action by starting pickups of yard waste for mulching or composting.

Westminster, for example, started a separate collection for grass clippings last summer, in addition to the city's traditional collection of leaves in the fall. City crews turned some of the yard waste into mulch and took the rest to the county mulch pile.

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