Hampton Debate About Commercial Trash Pick Up

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Two Selectmen Say Majority Want Practice Eliminated

By Patrick Cronin

Hampton Union, Tuesday, August 2, 2011

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]

HAMPTON -- Two selectmen feel the other three have already made up their minds about a solution to the inequities among who gets trash collection in town and who does not.

"They want to eliminate commercial trash pickup," said Selectman Bill Lally. "I absolutely believe that is where the board is heading and I for one am totally against it."

The issue of unfair trash collection practices came up again last week, with Selectman Mike Pierce pushing to establish a committee to look at how the town handles trash pickup in relation to businesses and residents.

With the town taking over recycling, Pierce said it is time to address the inequities of who gets what, as far as trash collection is concerned.

The town currently picks up trash for residential and some downtown businesses — but not all — once a week.

Some beach businesses, including restaurants, get service seven days a week while that service is offered three days a week for some cottages, hotels and other businesses.

Selectman Rick Griffin adamantly opposed forming another committee on an issue that has been discussed many times in the past.

"We don't need a committee that is self-serving and appointed by people who don't want (commercial trash pickup)," Griffin said.

Griffin accused selectmen Richard Nichols, Jerry Znoj and Mike Pierce of already having their mind made up on the issue.

"Keith (Noyes, public works director) is getting paid," Griffin said. "We need to listen to him and not a committee."

Nichols said the board has not made any decisions.

"My personal opinion is that we need to do something but I'm not sure what that something is," Nichols said.

After reviewing a list of who receives trash pickup, Nichols said there are inequities that need to be addressed.

Griffin said the board held a public hearing on this very issue two years ago and the response was overwhelming to keep commercial trash pick up the way it is.

"We need to listen to the public," Griffin said.

But Znoj said when the town had the public hearing, 95 percent of those who showed up at the hearing were business owners.

"We never heard anybody else's side," Znoj said. "I heard what was said at the meeting and it was overwhelmingly from businesses. And let's face it, if I'm getting something for nothing, I'd squeak like a rat to continue it."

Znoj said the board held off on dealing with the commercial trash issue to see how the recycling program would work.

"Recycling is dead flat at 30 percent a month," Znoj said.

"This is an opportunity to look at what we are doing because what we are doing now is costing us well over a million dollars a year."

Lally said the majority of businesses in town pay for their own trash removal.

"The businesses that we would be hurting is the small businesses in town and I'm totally against that," Lally said.

While the motion to establish a committee never received a second, Nichols said the issue is not dead.

Selectmen have charged the public works director to review the inequities among who gets trash collection in town and who doesn't and bring forward some recommendations designed to make the practice fair across the board.

Nichols said the board will discuss the issue again when the public works director goes before selectmen later this month.

"Obviously it's going to be contentious because there are five selectmen and five different opinions," Nichols said.

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