Massachusetts town halts condo refuse collection.
The city will no longer pick up trash and recyclable materials for condominiums built after Dec. 31, 2016, pending a vote next week of the City Council.
The council’s Ordinances, Charter & Rules Committee this week voted, 4-1, to endorse a change to the municipal code that will require condo associations to make arrangements for their own refuse collection.
Alderman at-large Michael Concannon opposed the change. The full City Council is expected to vote on the legislation at its regular meeting on Tuesday (7 p.m.) at City Hall.
If approved, the change to the municipal code would impact newly-constructed condos only. Condominium complexes which currently have their trash and recyclable materials collected by the city will maintain that service.
“We have some big new projects coming on line, and the question is whether that cost should be borne by the condo association,” said Ward 4 Alderman Michael Anderson, who authored the change to the municipal code.
Concannon argued the council is creating different classifications of residents by selectively eliminating refuse collection.
“People who live in these (condos) pay taxes,” said Concannon. “Why won’t they get that service? If I was living in a condominium and I couldn’t get my trash picked up, I’d probably be down in the office to complain.”
“Would you still complain if you knew that up front?” responded Anderson.
“Probably,” said Concannon. “It’s not like the schools, where you pay even if you don’t have kids in school. That’s a social contract. This is a specific service.”
Board of Health Agent Jack Fralick said the savings to the city will be about $100 per condo unit if the municipal code change is adopted.
Condominiums were not included in the city’s trash collection routes until 1998, when the council adopted a zoning change, after representatives from several condo associations showed up to a council meeting to lobby for equal treatment.
With the prohibitive cost of refuse collection (the city’s trash contract this year is slightly more than $3 million), Anderson has argued that requiring private refuse collection from condominium owners ought to fall under the cost of doing business.
“We require apartments (with more than three units) and commercial properties to pick up their own trash,” agreed City Council President Richard Haggerty. “They pay taxes. People get different benefits. That’s just the way it is.”
Haggerty also noted that one of the selling points for condos when the developers come to the council for special permits is they require fewer city services.
“We hear that argument all the time,” said Haggerty. “That’s part of the equation.”
Fralick acknowledged “trying to provide equivalent services is difficult,” and said that condo complexes usually require more frequent trash collection than single-family homes. The trade-off, however, is it’s usually easier to collect the actual trash in areas where the residences are closer together.
“A lot of these condos don’t have kids,” said Ward 3 Alderman Mark Gaffney. “They’re elderly people who don’t generate a lot of trash.”
Ward 2 Alderman Richard Gately said he favors the change to the zoning code, and noted there are at least three new condo projects of considerable size in the development stage.
“There are no more small packages,” he said. “No one is putting up four or five units anymore. I think the ordinance is good. We’re warning (developers) in advance if you’re putting up 200 units, you’re going to have to pay the price.”
“It’s a good ordinance. It’s written well,” said Ward 1 Alderman Joanne Campbell. “When you’re buying a condo, you understand these are the rules.”