Possible change in Bel Air commercial trash pickup times subject of public hearing Monday

A proposed change in the Town of Bel Air’s development regulations regarding when trash can be picked up at commercial locations is causing some concern among companies that service those locations, town officials confirm.

The change, which has been proposed by the town’s Planning Commission, is one of several to the development regulations pending before the Board of Town Commissioners under Ordinance 783-18, a public hearing for which is scheduled Monday at 7:30 p.m. at town hall as part of the regular commissioners meeting.

“Refuse or recycling removal, compaction or other similar operations” are not permitted between the hours of 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. “when located in a residential district or within 500 feet of residentially zoned property,” according to the existing ordinance.

The proposed amendment would set a time limitation of servicing non-residential properties from 10 p.m. to 6:30 a.m.; however, it also would make that restriction everywhere in town, not just in residential zones or within 500 of a residential property.

Private haulers that service businesses, churches, schools and other non-residential locations in town have criticized the proposed change, according to Town Commissioner Philip Einhorn and Planning Director Kevin Small. Both say they expect representatives of the hauling companies to testify against the change at Monday’s hearing.

“We want to hear from everyone, get everyone’s opinions; we don’t want to rush this forward,” Einhorn said Thursday. “We don’t want the hearing to be one-sided.”

Einhorn said he believes there have been some complaints from the public about having their sleep disrupted by the noise from early morning pick-ups that prompted the proposed change. He urged anyone who does have such concerns to attend the hearing.

Small, who said he isn’t taking a position on the amendment, said he’s heard arguments on both sides. He also emphasized that the proposed change is essentially a recommendation of the planning commission, would still have to be approved, or possibly modified, by the five-member town board.

There are many residential properties around town that are close to commercial locations, “more than you might think,” he explained, and noise from trash trucks working and emptying large Dumpsters “does travel beyond 500 feet in town.”

Although the time adjustment would allow them to start 30 minutes earlier, Small said the haulers still have concerns because they have a lot of territory to cover, not just in the downtown area, and further restricting their work area overnight could pose difficulties.

“Once people start arriving for work and park cars, it’s difficult for the trash haulers to get in and out of places, particularly downtown,” he said. “There are also schools where they don’t want to have a big truck going in that could create a dangerous situation.”

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