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Berlin ordinance, bulk pickup policy tabled

By Rachel Ravina, Staff Writer

(Nov. 28, 2019) An ordinance revising trash collection and policies governing bulk pickup in Berlin hit a roadblock after it was tabled during a Town Council meeting, Monday.

The measure, introduced during a Nov. 12 meeting, would allow residents to discard three free items during bulk pickup periods, which happens twice a year.

A $25 fee would then applied, with $25 per additional item “payable prior to collection.”

Town Administrator Jeff Fleetwood previously said the ordinance was revised to update language and remove grammatical errors.

He said 2,000 tons of trash were collected in 2018, and roughly 1,600 tons were collected in 2019.

Area residents objected during a public hearing. Several citizens, including Marie Velong, took issue with the upfront payment required for additional items. She added that a “scavenger” could take something before it’s discarded.

“If someone pays $50 to have an item picked up, do you think a homeowner will take kindly to someone taking that item?” she asked. “So, are you prepared to be responsible if that should erupt into something unpleasant?”

When asked about the foragers, Fleetwood said “I’m not suggesting you stand guard, but it’s your property.”

Town Attorney David Gaskill suggested an alternative solution: send the homeowner an invoice after additional items are collected.

Councilman Zack Tyndall proposed working with area organizations including Habitat for Humanity and Atlantic General Hospital’s thrift shop to donate items in good condition that were slated for pickup.

Williams later asserted that other people were bringing their bulk items to town to be discarded.

Councilman Dean Burrell agreed.

“I would like to have something done with those people because this is a service that is needed this is a service that I think is a good thing, but when folks game the system … sometimes the good has to suffer with the bad, and I don’t think that’s right,” Burrell said.

Tyndall moved to table the ordinance and bulk pickup policy. The policy was unanimously tabled. Postponing the ordinance narrowly passed in a split decision that resulted in Councilmen Burrell, Tyndall and Troy Purnell voting in favor of pressing pause. Councilmen Elroy Brittingham and Thom Gulyas dissented.

Resident Jack Orris said he was pleased with the result of Monday night’s vote.

“I’m encouraged that the council paused, listened to great suggestions from our community and decided to table and review alternatives,” Orris said following the meeting.