Cobb’s trash services proposal quashed by residents, sanitation companies

Chairwoman: County will work with trash haulers to find new solutions to service issues
Cobb commissioners tabled regulations on sanitation services after feedback from residents and garbage company owners. AJC file photo

Cobb commissioners tabled regulations on sanitation services after feedback from residents and garbage company owners. AJC file photo

Cobb County will not be regulating its trash pickup services this fall after some residents and trash company owners spoke against the proposal that would have designated contracts and zones for garbage pickup.

Backlash over the sanitation code amendment prompted the board to invite sanitation business owners who operate in Cobb to speak at a community meeting August 31. This week, county commissioners decided to table the idea, meaning they set aside the proposal for now, but they also voted to revisit it with the next code amendment package in January.

Jon Swierenga, the owner of Trash Taxi based in Acworth, said more communication and active coordination between the county and the garbage companies could solve the issues without a code amendment.

“We want to make sure that the problems are addressed,” he said at the August meeting. “I think we can fix this without disrupting what we have.”

The proposal as originally presented would have created four zones for residential trash pickup, allowing the county to contract with sanitation companies to operate in each zone. It also would have established countywide standards for pickup schedules and recycling.

County staff drafted the proposed plan to address complaints from residents about the lack of services available, the inconsistency of services and issues with recycling pickups.

“We have residents who have no haulers that are providing any service on their street or cul-de-sac, and they have not had any assistance from the county,” Chairwoman Lisa Cupid said at Tuesday’s board meeting.

Swierenga and other business leaders suggested the county create a heat map of where each garbage company operates to make any possible gaps visible to ensure services are offered in the entire county. Swierenga also said the county should forward complaints to the sanitation companies operating in the resident’s area so they can resolve the issue, instead of the county looking for a solution.

At Tuesday’s board meeting, commissioners voted 4-1 to table the proposal with the condition that it be revisited with the next round of code amendments, which will take place in January. Commissioner JoAnn Birrell voted in opposition because she said the amendment should be removed completely without bringing it back next year.

“Let the haulers and staff work it out together,” Birrell said. “I don’t know that we need an ordinance or code to address this.”

Many residents reached out to the board in opposition to the amendment and to support the current free market system where each household or homeowners association chooses which provider to use. Birrell said of the 1,715 emails the board received about the solid waste amendment, only two supported the county’s plan.

Cupid said it is the board’s responsibility to help address the issues residents have complained about to the county, especially for those who do not currently have residential trash pickup services.

“This is a public health matter when we have residents who are not receiving service,” Cupid said.