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Town talks on licensing commercial garbage haulers

REPORTER FILE PHOTO | The Town Board discussed licensing commercial waste carters.

REPORTER FILE PHOTO | The Town Board met to discuss several issues at its work session Tuesday.

Shelter Island has taken a step toward licensing commercial carters who take solid waste and recyclable materials off-Island.

At Tuesday’s Town Board work session, Town Attorney Laury Dowd said issuing permits to carters to operate would achieve “good things.”

Every other Long Island town, according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation requires commercial carters to be licensed.

There are two commercial haulers serving the Island, Dan’s Carting & Recycling and Shelter Island Environmental Services.

Dan Binder, owner of Dan’s Carting & Recycling welcomed licensing. “I’m in favor of it so the town can get control of what goes on,” Mr. Binder said. “People who do the right thing have nothing to worry about.

Shelter Island Environmental Services didn’t return phone calls before press deadline.

Licensing would set an enforcement mechanism for commercial carters who violate town regulations, Ms. Dowd said, such as mixing recyclable materials with so-called “wet garbage,” or municipal sold waste (MSW) and recyclables. This is a violation of a state statute that all municipalities are required to separate recyclables from garbage.

Also, issuing permits to carters would give the town vital information on exactly how much material the commercial carters are hauling off-Island. Now, without any oversight by the town, that figure is anybody’s guess.

What’s clear is the amount of MSW — the stuff seven out of ten residents put in town bags and take to the Recycling Center has been steadily declining over the years. Knowing how much the commercial haulers are handling would give some clue to why the town’s share of MSW and recyclables is declining.

The permit processing would include general information on the company; the kind of vehicles the company is using; and an annual report on how much waste they’re collecting and where they’re taking it.

Town Clerk Dorothy Ogar suggested the board be specific on what constitutes a commercial hauler, noting that there are cleaning services that take clients’ garbage off Island. The board agreed to narrow the definition and decide what the town would charge for a permit charge before setting a public hearing on the issue.

AMBROSE CLANCY PHOTO | Tim Purtell addressed the Town board Tuesday on the need for declaring a snow emergency along Grand Avenue when heavy storms hit.

AMBROSE CLANCY PHOTO | Tim Purtell addressed the Town board Tuesday on the need for declaring a snow emergency along Grand Avenue when heavy storms hit.

In other business: A representative of the Shelter Island Heights Property Owners Corporation made a pitch to get town help in towing cars along Grand Avenue during severe snowstorms.

Tim Purtell, a member of the SIHPOC, told the board that during a snowstorm of more than four inches accumulation, the stretch on Grand Avenue between the firehouse and the pharmacy can’t be properly plowed because of parked cars. His organization is proposing that this stretch be declared a snow emergency zone since cars are snowed in there and once the storm passes, business on Grand Avenue have no customer parking.

The solution, Mr. Purtell said, is for the town to declare a snow emergency and people, especially those who park overnight along Grand Avenue, would be contacted to move their cars. Parking would be available in the Chequit parking lot. For those who can’t be reached, SIHPOC would tow their cars and then seek reimbursement for the towing. The cars would be towed to Sylvan Place next to the post office, or somewhere near the snow emergency zone.

Owners of towed vehicles would be contacted and those who couldn’t be contacted, the Police Department would identify the vehicle and contact the owners.

Police Chief Jim Read saw immediate problems. If his department asks the state Department of Transportation to reveal automobile ownership information, it requires a summons. And the litigation involved in towing can be extensive.

“People don’t like their cars being towed,” Chief Read said, and cited damage to vehicles when towed and other problems.

The board said more information was needed and more details worked out before any further steps.

The board discussed possible methods to, in the words of Town Attorney Laury Dowd, reduce the scope of the state Department of Conservation regulations to comply with Multiple Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4) mandates linked to the federal Clean Water Act.

Southold has so far been successful in reducing MS4 regulations, and Shelter Island can explore ways to do the same, Ms. Dowd said.

Supervisor Jim Dougherty announced town receipts for March as $70,500, an increase of more than $20,000 over March 2013 receipts. Building Department permits last month were $13,300, or about $8,000 more than a year ago. Garbage bag sales totaled $13,800, a startling increase of more than $12,000, and land fill receipts last month were $11,500, down from $17,500 from March 2013.