Council examines new trash policy Some residents worry about increased dumping

April 12, 1996|By Dan Morse | Dan Morse,SUN STAFF

To Columbia's leaders and residents -- not to mention real estate agents -- few phrases are sweeter than "open space" and few worse than "littered open space."

And so it was with great concern last night that Columbia's governing body -- the Columbia Council -- took up the issue of Howard County's new trash policy.

The council's concern is that if the county places strict limits on garbage collection, some residents will dump their waste on Columbia's 3,000 acres of open space -- a catch-all term for the woods, lakes, pathways, tot lots and other features scattered throughout the planned town.

"I think it will be a problem," said Suzanne Waller, who represents Town Center on the 10-member council.

The council monitors the Columbia Association (CA), the homeowners organization that collects liens from Columbia residents and manages their parks and recreation facilities.

Hope Sachwald of Harper's Choice said she knew of five areas in her village where people might illegally dump trash.

The way she sees it, the association should not have to pay for trash dumped onto its land as a result of the county's new garbage policy.

"I certainly don't think CA should be cleaning up bags of trash," she told Howard County Public Works Director James M. Irvin during the meeting.

She would like to see some form of the trash police that are employed in Seattle, which has a particularly rigid garbage policy that forces residents to recycle much of their waste.

Under Howard's proposed trash plan, which would go into effect July 1, residents would be limited to four 30-gallon containers -- cans or bags -- a week.

The current limit is eight. (The policy also calls for residents to pay a $125 yearly trash fee.)

Columbia Council member Gary Glisan of Oakland Mills said he did not see the four-container limit as particularly burdensome.

The average county household produces about three containers trash a week, according to Howard officials.

"I really don't see this as increasing the dumping," Mr. Glisan said.

Mr. Irvin seemed to agree. And for that reason, he said, trash police probably would not be needed.

He said that was one of the reasons County Executive Charles I. Ecker decided to go with the four-container limit rather than stricter "pay-as-you-throw" plans proposed last year by Mr. Ecker's Solid Waste Funding Assessment Board.

Still, there is movement among "several" County Council members to reduce the weekly container pickup, Mr. Irvin said.

The pay-as-you-throw concept -- under which residents would pay for each container picked up -- could be coming to Howard within a few years.

"That's still out there as an issue," Mr. Irvin said.

Columbia Council members made it a point to tell Mr. Irvin they supported his concept of encouraging recycling.

Pub Date: 4/12/96

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