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Pennington adopts ordinance for automated trash collection

SCOTT FRIEDMAN

Members of the Pennington Council have adopted an ordinance that implements automated trash collection in the borough.

The council adopted the measure at its meeting on Aug. 9.

Council President Catherine Chandler, Councilwoman Deborah Gnatt, Councilman Ken Gross, Councilman Charles Marciante, Councilwoman Beverly Mills and Councilwoman Liz Semple voted “yes” on the ordinance’s adoption.

Automated trash collection would use an automated garbage truck and standardized trash containers. According to the ordinance, requiring property owners to use containers supplied by the borough with standard size and features will give a uniformed appearance, and automated trash collection system will improve safety for borough employees.

“We said last week that this is a trial period. We are going to give it, I believe, 90 days and we are going to watch and see how it affects the overall delivery. If there is no problem we will leave it the way it is, but if there is a major problem we see we will adjust it,” Marciante said. “We are going to try it. It is not the best but it is what we are offering right now and can be tweaked at a later date.”

The ordinance also amends the Borough Code with new language. For example, approved trash cans, a 32-galloon watertight container that when full cannot weigh more than 40 pounds, has been deleted and replaced. The borough would now provide one 95-gallon trash container without charge and an annual fee would apply for an additional identical container.

However, no more than one additional trash container will be provided for a fee to a property owner in the borough.

“Based on the numbers and the data and looking at the collection numbers across the borough, I would recommend people stick with the 95-gallon can,” Mayor James Davy said. “When all is said and done people are going to find out that the 95-gallon can works and still has some room to spare. I would do a wait-and-see on how it works. We, as a borough, are going to be flexible with the residents.”

Resident Cara Laitusis during the public hearing stated her concerns that there is no overflow solution for families who use more than three cans a week currently of garbage any week of the year, and now the $400 fee for a second can.

“At the June meeting I heard some discussion that there may be an option to buy a second can for $400. I expressed some concern that families who are already paying for four or five bedroom – taxes almost $20,000 a year in many cases – that they should not have to pay an additional $400,” she said. “I noticed in the ordinance that families who have 0% of their home in the borough will pay $400 for a single can of garage.”

Laitusis added prior to the council vote that they should vote “no” and table it to the September meeting.

“Then come up with a solution that will work without solidifying that non-taxpayers from Hopewell Township are going to pay $400, when you need to charge them more to offset the cost of families who are in four or five bedroom homes,” she said.

In response to Laitusis’s comment on her concerns of an overflow solution, Rick Smith, Public Works superintendent and Recycling coordinator, said there won’t be a huge change in how Public Works accommodates certain phone calls and extraordinary circumstances.

“So if there is a party, call me. Kind of like it works now,” he said. “Somebody that is moving or having a party or event, I try to work with everybody based on whatever they have going on in the moment. That won’t change.”

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