The Mt. Pleasant City Commission has amended the solid waste ordinance to limit the hours that waste haulers can collect trash in residential areas and in commercial locations that abut residential areas in the central Michigan city. Any hauler that has three or more violations in a 12-month period could have its hauling license revoked.
Over the past year, the City Commission has held various work sessions and a public hearing to discuss the proposal and to work with citizens, businesses and haulers to fix what they say has been an ongoing noise issue for Mt. Pleasant residents.
The amended ordinance limits solid waste pickup so that it will not occur before 7 a.m. or after 8 p.m. in residential zones within the city or in commercial zones that abut residential zones that have dwelling units. The previous ordinance had no time limits for collection. The restricted hours go into effect next month.
Commissioners also approved an exemption policy in the ordinance that allows businesses to request exemption from the restricted collection hours due to unusual hardship at various locations. The haulers will apply to be excluded, and the city’s director of solid waste will determine whether there is a need for exemption after also hearing feedback from residents who live within 300 feet of the business being serviced. The hauler will pay a $70 fee for the exemption process. There also is a repeal process that will be heard by the commission if necessary following the solid waste director’s decision.
Finally, the commission allowed for a sunset rule for the amendment to be revisited in a year’s time to determine its effectiveness.
Republic Services is Mt. Pleasant’s contracted residential hauler. Municipal Services Manager Matt Biolette says the ordinance could cause economic harm and could create safety concerns, especially in parking lots that would be empty of vehicles before 7 a.m. but difficult to navigate later in the day.
“When you have to maneuver around vehicles, we increase risk factors dramatically,” Biolette says. “Those risks will result in property damage or could result in a small child or another member of the general population running out in front of a truck that they can’t see because there’s too many cars in the parking lot. So the safety concern really limits us.”
Phil Mikus, spokesman for Lansing-based Granger Trash, told the city commission that the change likely will impede the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of trash removal in the city. Granger, a solid waste company that provides waste hauling and recycling services in Central Michigan, has some customers who will need containers serviced before the 7 a.m. restriction, Mikus says.
“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 says. “A blanket prohibition to restrict trash removal services before 7 a.m. unfairly restricts one industry.”
Restricting collection before 7 a.m. is setting the waste industry apart from other noisy industries, such as snow removal and food delivery services which, he says unfairly targets the waste industry.
Commissioner Jim Holton, who voted against the ordinance change, spoke against the amendment.
“This is cumbersome upon staff. It’s cumbersome upon businesses, and the exemption policy is going to be a nightmare,” Holton said.