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Manchester wrestles with yard waste disposal The question is: Where to compost? NORTH--Manchester * Hampstead * Lineboro


Manchester town officials are looking for a way to cut the cost of disposing of yard waste, which now goes out with the trash and ends up at a county landfill.

If they are successful, they could save up to $21,600 next year.

The Town Council may decide to use state grant money to open a facility in Manchester to turn waste into compost and mulch. Or, the town may choose to send the waste to the county, which is now building a composting facility.

Either way, the council will have to coax residents to separate their yard waste from their trash.

It costs the town $40 a ton to dump waste at the landfill. Residents pay for the tipping fee through local real estate taxes.

Manchester has budgeted $54,000 to pay for dumping 1,350 tons of solid waste at the county landfill in fiscal 1994.

Yard waste makes up about 40 percent of the weight of Manchester's solid waste, said Councilman Geoffrey S. Black. He is charged with oversight of recycling and waste management for the Town Council.

That means Manchester will pay $21,600 in the coming year, or 5.5 cents on the town's real estate tax rate, to dump yard waste at the landfill.

Yard waste, such as grass clippings, leaves and tree branches, is the single largest component of Manchester's solid waste, Mr. Black said.

"It absolutely behooves you as a town" to look into ways of lowering the cost of disposing of yard waste, he said.

If Manchester recycles its yard waste, he said, the town will save tipping fees now as well as the costs of building additional landfill space later.

He said he would support a town ordinance that would require Manchester residents to separate yard waste from other trash. The yard waste could be turned into mulch or compost, which would eliminate a large part of the town's tipping fee burden.

On Thursday, at the annual meeting between the Manchester Town Council and the county commissioners, the council asked how the town and the county could work together to recycle yard waste.

Keith Kirschnick, the county's public works director, said Carroll is beginning to recycle yard waste into compost at the Northern Landfill.

The county is under a federal mandate to recycle 15 percent of its solid waste by Jan. 1, 1994.

Mr. Kirschnick said the county now accepts yard waste free of charge, to be recycled into compost. Acceptable yard waste includes grass clippings, leaves and tree trimmings less than 2 inches in diameter and less than 4 feet in length. Clean wood waste, such as pallets, also is acceptable, he said.

"We are asking that it be kept clean yard waste," he said, noting that if the county finds trash mixed in with the yard waste, haulers might be required to take the waste out of the trash bags themselves so county workers can inspect it.

After last week's town-county meeting, Mr. Black said that Manchester might be able to negotiate with a hauling company to take yard waste to the county's composting facility for between $150 and $250 per 10-ton load.

That could save Manchester up to $13,500 during the year in tipping fees.

But Mr. Black said no decision has been made on how to handle the town's yard waste.

The town also has received grant approval from the state Department of the Environment for a lawn-waste recycling project.

The grant is for up to $20,000, with the final amount depending on how much the town provides in matching funds.

In February, Manchester officials said the money eventually might be used for a local yard-waste chipping and composting facility in town.

However, Town Manager Terry Short said Monday that running a composting operation is "fairly expensive. We just don't have the funds" to add services now.

"If people demand the services," he said, "they have to be willing to pay for them."

Mr. Short also said that Mr. Black is leaving the council this month. He said the town didn't want to make any big decisions on yard waste and recycling before his successor takes office.

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