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Lush yard waste policy costing Waynesville big bucks

 fr chippersLee Galloway never goes anywhere without a spare copy of Waynesville’s yard waste ordinance. Even a simple evening jaunt to the grocery store can find Galloway scanning the curbs

for illegal piles of brush, armed and ready to hand out copies of the ordinance explaining what the town will and won’t pick up.

Galloway, who is retiring as Waynesville’s town manager this week, has been zealous in his final years about stopping those who take advantage of the town’s generous yard waste policy.

Waynesville goes above and beyond the typical pick-up of autumn leaves or branches from the routine pruning of shrubbery. Instead, town crews will often find entire felled trees on the curbside of homes, left to be cut up and fed into the town’s mobile chipper at taxpayers’ expense.

People living outside the town limits had also taken to surreptitiously dumping their yard waste on unsuspecting street corners, unduly taking advantage of the town’s plush amenity.

“It’s just really been a problem,” Galloway said. “The town just can’t afford it.”

The town spent $441,000 in fiscal year 2011 to haul 1,360 tons of yard waste to a compost site on Bible Baptist Church Road. And, the $6.50 monthly fee that residents pay toward trash collection is not nearly enough to cover the expense of garbage, recycling and all that yard waste.

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“It’s created a really hardship for us,” Galloway said. “I don’t think people realize the cost involved.”

The town’s policy stipulated that if a homeowner did their own pruning and cutting, the town would collect the scraps as a service to residents. But if a contractor was hired for large-scale tree removal, they were supposed to haul it off as part of the job, not leave it for town workers to dispose of.

Galloway has personally seen non-residents or contractors dumping large amounts of waste in vacant lots or other places around the town.

He took it upon himself to police the violations, passing out copies of the ordinance if he caught contractors in action or calling the town’s sanitation crew and telling them not collect the waste.

However, there needs to be a long-term solution to the problem. Other towns have said they will haul whatever they can load into their truck in 30 minutes, and still others have placed size limits on their collections.

Galloway said he does not know what option would work best for Waynesville, but something must change.

In terms of its generous yard waste amenities, Waynesville is second only to Biltmore Park, an upscale community in Asheville, according to a report by Land-of-Sky Regional Council, a multi-county local government planning and development organization. The council studied Waynesville’s waste collection programs and offered suggestions for improvement to the programs as well as best options for dealing with changes to Haywood County’s solid waste program.


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