TIM GANNON PHOTO | Refuse in woods along Oak Avenue in Flanders.
Having seen too much illegal dumping over the years in the hamlets of Flanders, Riverside and Northampton, a proposal to create a garbage collection district will go to a public vote this fall among residents in the area.
The idea has been discussed by civic leaders in those hamlets for several years, as they feel it would eliminate the need to drop off trash on vacant lots in the area — while saving locals garbage costs of their own — if carting can be obtained for a reasonable price.
“It is a community that has a large rental population — the homes are very tight together on small lots. But we also have a community in a socio-economic position where a lot of people are looking for alternative methods for disposing their waste, and that does not include taking it to the dump or having a private carter, but actually placing it somewhere that it doesn’t belong,” said Councilman Brad Bender, who lives in Northampton.
Mr. Bender, a former president of the Flanders, Riverside and Northampton Community Association was elected last fall in his second bid for Southampton Town Board. The Town Board discussed the issue at its July 10 work session.
While the creation of a garbage district normally is subject to a permissive referendum, in which a petition signed by a certain percent of the voters could force a referendum, Southampton Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst said the Town Board plans to have a mandatory referendum on the issue. The town offered residents the same option when it created beach erosion control districts in Bridghampton, Sagaponack and Hampton Bays.
“This way, there was no gray area in terms of people having the ability to be heard on this,” said Ms. Throne-Holst.
But before a vote, the town will first gather bids from commercial garbage carters in order to get an idea of what it will cost to have a garbage district in the three hamlets, according to assistant town attorney Kathleen Murray. They also will have a public hearing on the proposal before the fall vote.
Vince Taldone, the current president of FRNCA, said at the meeting that about 80 percent of residents in the hamlets currently pay for private carting, coming at a cost of about $40 per month.
By comparison, residents in Riverhead’s six different garbage districts pay on average about $250 per year, said Christine Fetten, Southampton’s director of facilities management.
The referendum for the Flanders, Riverside and Northampton garbage district would be a vote amongst residents in just those three hamlets — not from the entire town. The boundaries of the proposed district would be the same as those of the Flanders Northampton Volunteer Ambulance, which covers those three hamlets.
While neighboring Riverhead Town has had garbage districts for years, Southampton Town doesn’t have any garbage districts, in which residents pay a special tax and have their garbage and recyclables picked up at curbside.
Southampton Town currently requires residents to buy green town garbage bags that are required for self-haulers to dispose of their garbage at town transfer stations. Recyclable items can be disposed of for free at the transfer stations.
There are transfer stations in Hampton Bays, Westhampton, North Sea and Bridgehampton. Residents also can contract with private garbage carters.
Putting Flanders, Riverside and Northampton into a separate garbage district would reduce the amount of revenue the town receives from self-haulers in those areas by about $63,000 per year, officials said.
However Mr. Taldone pointed out that money would also be saved, though it would be tough to quantify — and savings wouldn’t necessarily come from the town’s facilities management department.
For instance, the town highway department last fall cleaned up piles of discarded televisions, yard waste, construction debris, clothing and other items from a lot in Riverside. Those clean-ups would be reduced, though not wiped out entirely.
“I believe this garbage district will greatly reduce the amount of illegal dumping there is, but to entirely eliminate it is a different story,” said Ms. Fetten.
The proposed Flanders, Riverside and Northampton district will likely be just for residential trash, officials said. Slightly over 2,000 homes would be affected.
Mr. Bender said the proposal would have a “single stream” recycling program, in which residents put all of their recyclable containers, paper and cardboard into one container at the curbside on designated recycling days, rather than putting each into separate containers.