Town seeks to stop free pickup for large debris

Published 8:35 pm Wednesday, November 15, 2017

BELHAVEN — The Public Works Department in Belhaven has taken issue with residents leaving large debris on the curb for free pickup.

The issue was discussed at Monday night’s Board of Aldermen meeting, in which only aldermen Ricky Credle and Amos Wilson were present on the board.

Town Manager Woody Jarvis said he was approached by the Public Works Department regarding the issue, and was told the department’s employees were not happy with the process for handling loads of big trees and other large debris left on the curb by hired contractors at a property.

The public works employees are required to take these loads to Pantego for disposal on the taxpayers’ dime, and while they usually deliver four to five loads a week, they were recently forced to make 10 trips to Pantego. The Town did not charge for this added labor and resource use.

“That’s a little bit above and beyond the service we’re probably equipped to give,” Jarvis said of the large debris. “The trash ordinance says that anything real big or real cumbersome … is a special collection, and the public needs to pay for the service.”

Jarvis said completing the task of tree disposal usually involves either cutting up the wood for easier transport or making a special trip to deliver the trees to Pantego — both of which take time and resources.

Belhaven’s trash ordinance states the Town should charge a minimum $25 fee when its resources are used to remove large debris. The only exception to this rule is after a hurricane, when FEMA funds reimburse at least part of the expenses.

The ordinance allows for free pickup of clippings and leaves, but “heavy or bulky items such as tree trunks, tree trimmings or hedge cuttings more than 60 inches in length or four inches in diameter, furniture and similar items” are considered special collections.

Mayor Adam O’Neal argued that the Town had performed this service for free for a long time, and reversing that process now would hurt those property owners who are unable to pay for the debris removal.

“They shouldn’t put whole trees out there on the street and expect the town to pick it up for free,” Jarvis said. “It’s a repeat of what the ordinance already says.”

He said he thinks the hired contractors who cut the trees should be required to clean up after working.

As there were only two aldermen present, there was not a quorum to authorize any changes to the Town’s trash ordinance to address the issue.