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DANC asking three counties to adopt uniform solid waste law

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LOWVILLE — The Development Authority of the North Country is asking its three charter counties to trash their solid-waste laws in favor of a new, uniform one.

Adoption of such a law would help ensure that “we all speak with one voice as a region,” DANC CEO James W. Wright told the Lewis County Board of Legislature Solid Waste Committee Wednesday.

Authority officials are making similar presentations to lawmakers in Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties in hopes of getting legislative approval from all three counties around the first of the year, he said.

The proposed legislation would replace individual county laws adopted more than 20 years ago during development of the regional landfill in Rodman, Mr. Wright said. The 12-page draft was developed using commonalities in the three different laws along with additions intended to address a statewide push toward increased recycling.

“The economic impact on reducing the amount of solid waste benefits everyone,” Mr. Wright said.

Development of the proposed law, which includes permitting regulations for commercial haulers and rules for disposal of solid waste and recyclables, follows DANC’s move to create a draft regional solid-waste plan that would replace county plans.

While each county is an individual entity, some haulers have customers in multiple counties, Mr. Wright said.

Even with the uniform law in place, counties would be able to establish individual policies — like implementation of flow control or designation of disallowed materials — by simple resolution, rather than by amendment to the local law, he said.

“We’re trying to be flexible and accommodate what everybody is doing,” Mr. Wright said.

Lewis and St. Lawrence counties both have adopted flow-control legislation requiring that all trash from those counties must go to the Rodman landfill, while Jefferson County has not, partly because there are no alternative landfills in close proximity, he said.

In anticipation of more stringent recycling requirements from the state, DANC officials over the past couple years have become more focused on keeping recyclables out of the waste stream, focusing on hauler education and using enforcement measures only when necessary, Mr. Wright said. Thus far, no fines have had to be assessed, he said.

Legislator Philip C. Hathway, R-Harrisville, questioned a requirement that all solid waste be delivered in clear or translucent bags so that recyclable or other prohibited materials could be more easily identified.

Mr. Wright said that such a rule could be phased in, allowing residents, haulers and retailers an adjustment period.

“The market will respond to what the demands are,” he said. “This is occurring across the state in other regions, as well.”

As with haulers, residents would be encouraged to comply with new regulations primarily through education, with penalties established only as a last resort, Mr. Wright said.

“The intent is to make it easier for inspection,” he said. “We’re not looking to be punitive.”

Attorneys and solid waste officials with the three counties have already reviewed the draft law, and haulers will also get a chance to look over the proposal, Mr. Wright said.

“It’s fairly simple and will create a three-county common law, I guess, that will work well for all of us,” said Peter J. Wood, Lewis County’s director of solid waste management.

Committee members plan to further review the draft law before making a recommendation to the full board, but no date was set for that meeting.

County Manager David H. Pendergast suggested the matter be held until after ongoing budget deliberations.

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