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Jefferson County Legislature to take up trash debate

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Next month, Jefferson County legislators will begin reviewing a local law that, among other things, would require tenants to recycle and landlords to provide on-site recycling.

The law is an amended version of a draft submitted to Jefferson County legislators by the Development Authority of the North Country in March.

It was created to reduce the amount of municipal solid waste sent to the DANC-owned landfill in Rodman, according to DANC Executive Director James W. Wright.

The law, which attempts to bring DANC’s three constituent counties into sync with how they process trash and recyclables, would replace a version passed in 1991, according to Deputy County Administrator Michael E. Kaskan.

The new version of the law differs from its previous incarnation in that it explicitly requires tenants to recycle and landlords to provide them the means by which to do so, Mr. Kaskan said.

According to Mr. Kaskan, the landlord and tenant provisions were not included in the 1991 version of the law because recycling had not yet become as prevalent as it is today.

But a housing boom and changes in public knowledge and attitudes about recycling have altered that situation in the intervening years.

“We’ve acquired an awful lot of apartments since then,” Mr. Wright said.

“Recycling was new at the time. This law was written when these issues weren’t obvious. It’s a good thing that we’re updating it,” Mr. Kaskan said.

Mr. Wright said the recycling requirement would not be as onerous as it may first appear.

Landlords in the city of Watertown can take advantage of the city’s recycling program, and many of the new developments already provide recycling services, Mr. Wright said.

But the changes leave many questions unanswered, according to Lance M. Evans, executive officer of the Jefferson-Lewis Board of Realtors.

At the very least, “This will cause landlords to have more of a conversation with their tenants,” Mr. Evans said.

New apartment complexes and housing developments such as Beaver Meadows, Eagle Ridge Village and the Preserve at Autumn Ridge offer recycling as part of their amenities packages.

According to Jeffrey L. Powell, property manager at the Preserve at Autumn Ridge, recycling services are something that prospective tenants expect when they are looking for a new home.

Both Eagle Ridge Village and the Preserve at Autumn Ridge offer single-stream recycling — a system that does not require residents to sort their recyclables.

In the city of Watertown, the Department of Public Works picks up recyclables from residents who use the city’s trash stickers or 32-, 64- or 96-gallon “totes,” according to Public Works Superintendent Eugene P. Hayes.

The city does not provide trash or recyclable collection to apartment complexes with more than four units, Mr. Hayes said.

Arrangements regarding the disposal of trash and recyclables can vary according to lease agreements, Mr. Hayes said.

County administrators made some other technical changes to the law and removed a controversial flow control provision, which would require solid waste generated in the county to be processed at the DANC facility, from the law.

Jefferson County is the only county among the three that does not have flow control.

Mr. Wright said he anticipated there would be changes to the draft local law he presented to legislators in March.

“We were trying to craft a document that is representative of all three counties,” Mr. Wright said.

Though the intent is to educate landlords and residents about the availability of recycling, the law does include enforcement procedures, including fines, that can be leveled against violators.

Those measures will not be used unless someone ignores repeated warnings, Mr. Wright said.

Legislators will begin debating the law next month but will not vote on it until February, Mr. Kaskan said.

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