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The Ordinance and Rules Committee ultimately voted against recommending the newest ordinance.

Pittsfield Continues to Stumble Over Trash Ordinance

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Box, bundle, barrel, bag, whatever, just keep it orderly.
 
That's what Ward 3 City Council Nicholas Caccamo is now proposing for a trash ordinance after re-writing the existing laws from top to bottom looking to focus only on health and aesthetics. His new version does not include any limits on the amount of trash nor does it require a toter or special bags after both had been harshly opposed by residents. 
 
"It was just so wildly unpopular. I think at the end of the day, the residents of Pittsfield are willing to pay for the new high school and they may not have students there, willing to pay for police and fire that they may not ever need, and curbside waste collection is the one thing everybody knows they will get picked up," Caccamo said.
 
In some cases, the ordinance is less restrictive than what is currently on paper but not enforced. For example, the current ordinance asks residents to have trash kept in 32-gallon pails with handles and lids. Caccamo's version eliminates that requirement, allowing residents to simply make sure it is secured.
 
"We are not instituting any system limits. We are not implementing any particular methods. We will take it as long as it is not hazardous to the workers at Republic, there aren't rips and tears, it isn't more than 50 pounds, and it is secure," Caccamo said.
 
But even making the rules easier, aligned with current practice, and focusing on changes to address messy situations in the neighborhoods, isn't so simple.
 
After an hour and a half of debate about the issue on Tuesday, the City Council's Ordinance and Rules voted against giving it a positive recommendation. His ordinance will head to the full council with a negative vote attached to it.
 
"I think there are things in the recommendation which I can't support which means I can't support the overall document," said Chairman Peter White, who joined Councilor at Large Melissa Mazzeo in voting against it and creating a split 2-2 vote, which in turn fails to get the majority needed for a positive recommendation.
 
Mazzeo systematically went through the newest proposal pointing out areas with which she disagreed and four times motioned to make changes. But that same 2-2 split continued, with Ward 6 Councilor John Krol and Caccamo voting against Mazzeo's attempt to eliminate provisions.
 
Mazzeo's first failed motion was on a line reading "no single items shall be collected." Caccamo said that is aimed to keep people from leaving items on the ground, not in bags, not bundled to anything, and expected to be picked up. 
 
Mazzeo, however, used an example of a plastic outdoor chair, saying some people won't be able to break that down and put it into a barrel. If the city won't pick it up, then it will get dumped elsewhere.
 
"A plastic chair in my back yard, I'm not going to be able to break that down," Mazzeo said.
 
Caccamo argued that would be considered bulky waste but Mazzeo said it shouldn't be because it could simply be tossed into the back of a truck.
 
"In theory that does fall under the category of bulky waste but in reality, we pick it up now," said Commissioner of Public Services David Turocy.
 
Caccamo said he was willing to "wordsmith" that sentence to be more clear but there was little appetite among the committee to do so. Instead, the split vote on Mazzeo's motion to remove that failed, leaving that "no single item" provision intact.
 
Mazzeo then took aim at language requiring cardboard to be broken down to 24-by-24 inches to be recycled. Again, she said many people aren't able to do so. In many cases, people can fold the box up to that size, but it is going to unfold, she said. 
 
"I think where we pigeonhole ourselves again is saying it has got to be 24-by-24," Mazzeo said.
 
But that size is how big it needs to be to fit into the recycling truck. Turocy said the trash hauler will just toss boxes bigger than that, or bigger and folded up, into the trash instead of recycling. Caccamo said oversized boxes jam the compactor.
 
"There have been numerous cases. It is especially true with large screen TVs," Caccamo said.
 
Mazzeo's motion again failed. She then switched to removing a provision requiring the bins to be stored in the back of the property.
 
"We can't tell people where to store their garbage," Mazzeo said. "As long they are taking their garbage pals on collection days and bringing them to the curb where they are supposed to."
 
White said he doesn't store his own garbage in the back of the property but instead on a side porch and in his former home in Ward 2, he said many residents don't have space in the back of the property and have to keep the bins on the side or front.
 
Caccamo, however, said the intent was to keep the city's street more aesthetically pleasing and that the enforcement is complaint based, so many neighborhoods won't be affected as long as there are no problems.
 
Mazzeo also took aim at a provision that the trash can be brought back by sunset the evening of pick up. 
 
"If you're not home, if you work, you've already missed dusk," Mazzeo said.
 
White again said that would be a provision he'd be out of compliance with because he doesn't return home from work until after dusk. White added that during the darkest days of the year, trash collectors wouldn't even be done the collecting.
 
The committee attempted to work a compromise, moving to sunrise the next morning, which Mazzeo and White still felt was too restrictive and rejected it. The group finally agreed on 3-1 on having it being brought back in by dusk the day after collection. Mazzeo voted against that as well, pushing for language to simply read that the bins are brought back "promptly."
 
Mazzeo and White weren't content with the ordinance without those changes so they voted against it, sending the negative recommendation on the entire ordinance.
 
The city had spent a good year debating moving to a toter system or a pay as you throw bag system as a way to limit trash, increase recycling, and ultimately save the city money on collection. It was also seen as ways to combat blight and improve health conditions throughout the city. 
 
For Krol, the most recent proposal simply cleans up language and matches it to what is currently happening with the system.
 
"The headline of this is that we aren't making any solid recommendations to reduce the amount of trash," Krol said.

Tags: ordinance & rules ,   trash,   

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Pittsfield Residents Fight Cell Tower Construction

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Residents hope Berkshire Superior Court rules on an injunction forcing Verizon to halt the construction on 150-foot cell tower on South Street.
 
Residents of Alma Street will have their date in court on Tuesday, claiming Verizon did not properly notify abutters before constructing a cell tower.
 
"I pray that the honorable judge not only rules in favor of our neighborhood, but at the same time also grants the injunction to stop work, preventing further damage, stress, and concerns associated with the tower being up and active," resident Courtney Gilardi said. "I would hope she would stop this tower from being placed in our neighborhood."
 
Verizon received the permitting from the Zoning Board of Appeals in 2017 to erect the 115-foot cellular tower. Work began in this spring.
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