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Town Hall Notes: Southold will force garbage carters to sort recyclables

After hearing complaints from local garbage carters that a new business is violating recycling laws, Southold Town is planning to create a new license to force carters to adhere to state law mandating that they separate recyclables.

The issue came up late last year when other garbage carters told Town Supervisor Scott Russell that Go Green Sanitation, a Riverhead company that claims that it separates garbage so that residents do not have to, has an unfair advantage. They charged it is not following state law requiring recyclables to be separated and that saves it money because the company does not run separate trucks to pick up the recyclables.

Town Councilman Chris Talbot said Mattituck Sanitation has lost 80 customers since Go Green started offering residential service at lower rates.

Go Green’s owner, Frank Fischer, countered in an interview Wednesday that his company is taking all of the garbage it collects to an out-of-town facility that handles the recycling.

“We’re doing nothing illegal; all material is being transported to a New York State- and DEC-approved and -permitted recycling facility,” he said. “We’re simply offering better service at a better price that’s more convenient to the residents.”

The new law, which was recently drafted by town attorney Martin Finnegan, would allow the town to grant permits to garbage carters and to cite carters who violate the conditions of the permit. The town will also only issue renewals to companies in good standing. A notice of public hearing is expected to be issued in two weeks, after the proposed law is reviewed by the town’s code committee.

“They don’t mind competition; they just want it to be fair,” said Councilman Vincent Orlando.

Mr. Russell said that if Go Green continues to operate without separating garbage, every one of the company’s customers could also be cited for violating state law. He said the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is in support of the town’s position.

“The DEC sent us correspondence strongly urging us to make sure state law is being honored,” said Mr. Russell.
TweetinG on town time?

The board briefly discussed whether it can block social networking by town employees while they are on the job. Though social networking sites are blocked on most town-owned computers and PDAs, many town workers have their own devices that they can use throughout the workday.

Town network and systems administrator Lloyd Reisenberg told board members that the town could do little to curb people’s use of their own devices.

Councilman Bill Ruland brought up the issue, and said he was also concerned about what people say on social networking sites.
“There are large companies that serve in this area that have strict policies about what employees can say about their boss or their job. This is understood. If they don’t, they’re terminated,” he said.

Mr. Russell said, however, that he believed people should be able to say what they want, within reason, as long as they do it on their own time.

“From my own view, if someone wants to say something bad about me and they work for me, that’s their right,” he said. “If they’re going to say inappropriate things like criticizing applicants and taxpayers, that’s an issue we have to address when the time comes.”

Filing with FEMA

After a whirlwind tour of eroded beaches with Federal Emergency Management Agency inspectors after the post-Christmas blizzard, Mr. Russell said Tuesday that the town had submitted claims for slightly more than $1 million worth of damage to Southold Town’s public properties, including the last several hundred feet of Soundview Avenue in Southold, which has been closed since the storm.

The town has not yet received a figure from FEMA for the cost of damage to private homes damaged by the storm. Though FEMA does not cover the cost of damage to private property, it does make low-interest loans available to homeowners who want to rebuild.

Mr. Russell said that while he believed it was likely that damage in Suffolk County would meet the $4 million threshold to qualify for FEMA assistance, the storm must also have caused $25 million worth of damage statewide in order for the town to qualify for assistance.

“That’s going to be difficult to meet statewide,” he said.

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