With newly approved changes to Brainerd’s city code on garbage disposal, trash will only be picked up in alleys instead of on the street, except in special circumstances.
The new rules will officially take effect Nov. 25, though city staff and haulers will work to inform residents of the change before beginning enforcement.
“Garbage trucks really do belong in the alley,” City Engineer Paul Sandy told city council members during their meeting Monday, Nov. 16.
Along with alley pickup, the ordinance change prohibits garbage and recycling bins from being placed outside before 6 p.m. the day before collection. They must be removed by the end of collection day.
The recommendation for these changes came from the city’s new solid waste committee, which was formed in September after discussions on how to handle various complaints about garbage bins being left out long after collection. Made up of city staff, one council member and representatives from Waste Partners, Waste Management, Nisswa Sanitation and Pequot Sanitation, the group plans to meet at least yearly to discuss solid waste and recycling issues in the city.
Haulers are to come up with a list of exempted addresses without alleys or without convenient access. Sandy said there is a portion of south Brainerd in the Graydon Avenue area that will be exempt.
Sandy also said he has heard from some residents on corner lots concerned about not having good access to their alleys.
“Although some homes may have alley access, their driveway or their garage is actually oriented to the street, and the concern being that the resident’s don't have a direct path to the alley to place their can out, and they feel it’s an inconvenience to have to pull their can out onto the street and into the alley or having to plow a path to the alley,” Sandy said.
He asked the council for guidance on how to handle these concerns, as he feels too many exemptions would defeat the purpose of the ordinance and make enforcement difficult.
Mayor Dave Badeaux suggested creating an application for residents to fill out if they believe they should be exempted, instead of just creating a blanket exemption for all corner lots. Sandy and the rest of the council liked the idea, agreeing the council would set guidelines for the application and allow city staff to accept or deny requests based on those guidelines instead of having to come back to the council each time.
“If it gets to a point where it’s just everyone’s applying if they’re on a corner lot, then maybe we have to revisit it, but it’s a good alternative to a blanket exemption,” Sandy said.
Council member Jan Lambert, who serves as liaison to the solid waste committee, said the council needs to be careful with exemptions. One of the goals of the ordinance change to begin with, she said, was to create less wear and tear on streets with garbage trucks coming back and forth. Too many streets with both alley and street pickup would negate that goal, she said.
Council member Dave Pritschet said he heard from a resident who travels a lot throughout the week and was concerned about having to leave his bin out longer than the newly allotted time frame. In those cases, Sandy said the resident would have to make arrangements with a neighbor to put out and pull in his bin at the appropriate times.
The ordinance amendment also allows for only four hauler licenses in the city each year. Because of the proximity of the Crow Wing County Landfill to Brainerd, this will reduce the number of haulers who “top off trucks” on the way through town, only picking up a few cans, causing additional wear and tear to city streets. The licenses will be offered to the four haulers from the prior year first and, if not obtained, will then become available to the next eligible company.
No one spoke on the proposed changes at the council’s hearing Monday, and Sandy said all the comments he received ahead of time pertained to corner lots. The council unanimously approved the ordinance amendment.