Rockland gives initial OK to pay per bag trash fee

Frank Isganitis
Contributed photo
Frank Isganitis
Posted June 09, 2014, at 9:41 p.m.

ROCKLAND, Maine — City councilors voted 4-1 Monday night for preliminary approval of a pay per bag system, arguing that it was the fairest way to pay for the city’s waste disposal costs.

Councilor Frank Isganitis said that the only way the city can control its waste disposal costs is to hold people accountable for what they throw into the transfer station.

Councilor Louise MacLellan-Ruf said that she had concerns about the financial impact on large families who might be on limited income.

“What do we do for the family with two children in diapers?” she asked.

MacLellan-Ruf said she has received the most vitriolic comments from the public from residents opposed to this change. Currently, residents can buy a dump sticker for $65 a year that allows them to dispose of unlimited household trash.

She acknowledged, however, that there are people who pull into the dump with a truck filled with trash bags and it is likely many of those bags do not come from Rockland, but they are allowed to dispose of the trash because they have a sticker.

Resident Michael Lane said large families would pay more with a pay per bag fee while wealthier people with more expensive homes would benefit by not having the service paid for by property taxes.

Isganitis said that the argument about the impact on a large family should be viewed differently. He said it was not fair for an elderly couple who have a home they have owned for a long time subsidize people who throw away more trash.

A formal public hearing and final vote are scheduled for July 14. The pay per bag fees would begin May 2, 2015.

The council also gave preliminary approval Monday night to an ordinance change that would lower the maximum allowable height for new buildings in a downtown neighborhood bordered by Main, Pleasant, Union and Park streets. The change would limit new buildings to 50 feet or four stories. The current law is 65 feet or five stories.

This comes in reaction to the proposed five-story hotel at the intersection of Main and Pleasant streets that has generated considerable opposition from residents in the neighborhood. The hotel exceeds 50 feet.

The hotel would not be affected by the change since the ordinance has not been adopted and the hotel application by ADZ Properties LLC has been ruled complete.

The hotel project is up for a final vote before the planning board in a meeting that will begin at 5:15 p.m. Tuesday, June 10.

The vote on lowering the height was 3-2 with Mayor Larry Pritchett and Isganitis opposed.

The formal public hearing and final vote are scheduled for July 14.

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