Owners of rental housing in Southampton Town would be required to have a contract with a private garbage collector for each house they rent under a new proposal by the Southampton Town Board.
“We have lots of renters and lots of tenants,” Councilman Brad Bender said at Monday’s meeting of the Flanders, Riverside and Northampton Community Association. “Where is the refuse going?”
Often times the owner will pass the responsibility for garbage disposal to the tenant, Mr. Bender said, and the tenant will dump it illegally.
“It goes down to the Route 24 rest area, it ends up in the dumpster out here, or it ends up at the end of the road,” he said.
The proposed law, which will be discussed at Thursday’s Town Board work session, requires that there be a contract for garbage pickup throughout the term of the lease and that the garbage pickup be a minimum of once per week. A public hearing is also scheduled for 1 p.m. Tuesday at a Town Board meeting.
Councilwoman Christine Scalera said rental properties “are disproportionately responsible for blight within the community.”
“This blight most often takes the form of unattended-to garbage and refuse which is left to lie and compound for extended periods,” she said.
Illegal dumping was cited earlier this year when the town, at FRNCA’s request, considered a referendum on establishing a garbage district in those three hamlets.
But that proposal ran into opposition from residents and was dropped.
“One of the reasons we started this whole thing about a garbage district was because so many bags of household waste were dumped in the wetlands, were dumped in the woods or dumped in front of other people’s houses,” said FRNCA president Vince Taldone.
He said some homes had up to 30 full garbage bags behind them.
“The dumping of household garbage is people who don’t have much money and probably have to decide, ‘Do I get rid of the garbage this week or buy food,’ and it just keeps piling up,” Mr. Taldone said.
“All you have to do is sit down at the Route 24 rest area on a Thursday night and watch all the people drive up and off their garbage,” Mr. Bender said.
Ron Fisher, the president of the Bayview Pines Civic Association, asked why code enforcement can’t patrol the area.
“You’ve invited us to sit there like 15 times already,” Mr. Fisher said in response to Mr. Bender.
“That’s another thing we’re going to work on,” Mr. Bender said.
Currently, police or code enforcement must actually witness somebody dumping illegally in order to charge them, he said.
Mr. Bender said the cost of hiring a garbage collector is tax deductible for the property owner.
“Anyone who runs a business — and renting out a house is a business — whenever you have an expense, you can start writing things off like garbage pickup, maintenance and repairs and electrical supplies. If you’re running a legitimate business, this is a write-off. It’s not a hardship,” Mr. Bender said.
Southampton already requires people renting a house to have a rental permit from the town.
No one opposed the proposal at the FRNCA meeting, where a second dumping-related proposal was also discussed.
That one would allow the town’s “blight mitigation fund,” which comes from justice court fees and can be used to clean up dumping or littering on town-owned properties, to also be used on other municipal properties, such as state or county lands.
This proposal was already adopted by the board on Sept. 8, following a public hearing where no one from the public spoke.
Mr. Bender said the recent cleanup of littering on the former Tire Craft property near the Riverside traffic circle was delayed by confusion over which land was owned by whom, the county or town.
The town bought the Tire Craft land many years ago as a park, but it recently gave part of it to Suffolk County in a land swap that was needed for the widening of the traffic circle.
Photo Caption: Illegal dumping and littering off County Road 104 in Riverside in 2013. This site was later cleaned up and cleared by Southampton Town. (Credit: Tim Gannon, file)