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Recycling, shade tree ordinance enliven discussions

Even though the Salisbury Township Environmental Advisory Council is meeting virtually, the meetings have been virtually lively.

The February and January meetings have focused on a new shade tree ordinance and information about the new hazardous waste pickup policy.

Under the leadership of Salisbury Township Assistant Manager Sandy Nicolo, who moderates, the approximately one-hour meetings have been brisk and inclusive, with participants voicing their opinions and asking questions.

The EAC meets virtually, in other words, online, using the popular Zoom format, whereby those who want to attend the monthly meeting preregister on the township website: https://www.salisburytownshippa.org.

Meetings have included guest speakers. The 7 p.m. March 17 EAC meeting is to feature Maria Ocasio, Lehigh Valley field coordinator, PennFuture.

The PennFuture website states the nonprofit is “leading the transition to a clean energy economy in Pennsylvania and beyond. We are protecting our air, water and land and empowering citizens to build sustainable communities for future generations.”

Ocasio is to present about stormwater, climate change and PennFuture, Nicolo announced at the Feb. 17 EAC meeting.

“She’s really enthusiastic and her organization is a top-line environmental organization in Pennsylvania,” Jane Benning, EAC chair, said in response to Nicolo’s announcement.

The Feb. 17 meeting had 12 participants listed on the Zoom platform, including newly-appointed EAC member Paul Carr, who represents the Fourth Ward.

“I went back to the drawing board to make something that works rather than the one that I had proposed,” Nicolo said of the shade tree ordinance.

“We have two ordinances on the books. One deals with trees on private properties. The other one has to do with shade trees along the street,” Nicolo explained.

“I have a whole new ordinance. I don’t have it ready for t onight.

“One of the things I want to propose is, rather than working on an ordinance that allows people to remove shade trees, the township will replace.

“I’m proposing to put money in the budget to plant a tree. This will take a lot of the financial concerns off the homeowner.

“By starting a list that any resident can request a tree, we might even plant more trees,” Nicolo continued.

“For trees on private property, we’re looking at the removal of two trees per year. You have to replant a tree for anything over two.”

Jacqueline Straley asked about other area municipalities’ shade tree policies.

“A lot of other municipalities, the shade tree commission runs the whole thing. Other places have an in-house arborist,” Nicolo replied.

Nicolo hopes $5,000 can be set aside in the township budget to fund tree replacement.

John Barbaz, who represents the First Ward on the EAC, asked about the process to remove a tree,

“Now, it’s $15. We are going to up that to maybe $30,” Nicolo replied, adding a “$300 penalty for anyone who removes a street tree without a permit” is being considered.

“The only time we find out [about a tree removal] is if a neighbor complains about it.

“You would have to drive the township every day [to enforce the ordinance.] The problem is enforcement.”

If the township would plant a tree, the resident would have to maintain it, according to Nicolo.

Jacquelyn Heiserman, who represents the Second Ward on the EAC, said, “I think we should look at some kind of forgiveness for low-income seniors.”

“I think you’re going to have a lot of opposition with the $300 fine,” Straley said.

“We’re going to pick a variety of trees [to plant],” Nicolo said.

Benning recommended using native trees from a list provided by Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources which can be found at https://www.dcnr.pa.gov/GoodNatured/pages/Article.aspx?post=83.

“I have to run this by the commissioners first,” Nicolo emphasized of his plans.

Township Commissioner Heather Lipkin, board of commissioners’ representative on the EAC, recommended “keeping the permit low and having a fine that has some sting to it.”

“The township has to take more of a role if we want trees in our community. I want something that we can actually enforce,” Nicolo said.

If and when the revised shade tree ordinance is ready for consideration by township commissioners, a public hearing would first be advertised and held.

Gary Smalley, Republic Services manager for New Jersey and parts of Pennsylvania and Joe Finan, manager, Heritage, which partners with Republic, for hazardous wastes, spoke at the Jan. 20 EAC meeting, for which 47 participants were listed on Zoom.

Salisbury Township officials renewed the contract with Republic.

Noting its seven years with the township, Smalley said, “It’s a relationship we value.”

Finan said the new hazardous wastes service provides township residents with safety, convenience and is environmentally responsible.

“We are going to take materials that are not meant for your household trash and handle them responsibly,” Finan said.

Finan reviewed hazardous materials that can be picked up and that cannot be picked up and the quantities allowed thereof. The procedure for the pickup was also explained.

There’s a customer service line to request the hazardous waste pickup. A bag will be provided the homeowner. The bag is to be placed close to the curb, but not on the curb.

During the question and answer session, Amber Sams asked whether details would be provided on the brochure. She was assured that it would be.

Jerry Judge asked about bio waste. It was recommended a hospital be contacted.

Patricia Veszpremi asked about old TVs. They will be picked up “as long as we can get it onto the truck,” she was told.

Renee Kazarno and Jen Kramer wanted to know if the service was included in township tax fees. She was told it is.

Dianne McKitish asked about empty bottles. The bottles are to not include residual liquid.

Jamie Saye asked if certain items are recyclable. It depends on the item, she was told.

“This really is great. We appreciate you putting this together and presenting it,” Kazarno said.

Smalley explained the changing economics of recycling.

“The problem is centered around China. But it really wasn’t their fault. It was 35 percent contaminated,” Smalley said.

“The market basically collapsed,” Smalley said.

A video was shown concerning “aspirational recycling.”

According to the video, small amounts of recycling contamination can turn entire loads into trash.

The motto is, stated the video: “When in doubt, throw it out.”

The contamination rate, or the percentage of items that must be sorted out at the recycling plant, is 18 to 19 percent.

This includes clothing, plastic bags, yard waste and pizza boxes.

The No. 1 contaminant is plastic bags.

The No. 2 contaminant is moisture.

A second video was shown in the style of an old-time silent movie with subtitles and piano accompaniment.

Aerosol cans can be recycled, but must be empty. “They have a tendency to explode,” it was stated.

Magazines can be recycled.

Bubble Wrap cannot be recycled.

Eva Abeniacar asked about water bottles with labels.

“I was waiting for someone to ask that, so you get the prize,” she was told.

“It’s best to take off the label,” it was said.

“We’ll work together to get the contamination rate down,” Nicolo said.

In a Jan. 8 email, the Salisbury Township administration announced “Effective Feb. 1, residents on the Wednesday and Saturday trash and recycling route will now have collection on Mondays and Thursdays. Mondays will be trash and recycling and Thursdays will be trash only. No other routes are impacted by this change.

“Electronic waste and household hazardous waste collection is expected to begin March 1. A flyer with more information will be mailed to residents and posted on the township’s website in mid to late January.”

Refuse and recycling rates approved at the Dec. 22, 2020, commissioners’ meeting went into effect Jan. 1 at $93 per unit per quarter or $372 annually.

The 2020 township trash collection rate was $68 per quarter per unit or $272 annually.

The higher rate for refuse and recycling collection services reflects the new contract with Republic Services, township officials said.

The increase is also because of adding pickup of electronic equipment to be recycled, officials said.

The approximate $5 million trash contract with Republic Services is for three years, 2021, 2022 and 2023, with possible renewal in 2024 and 2025.

The municipal solid waste and recycling contract was awarded to Republic Services at the Dec. 10, 2020, township meeting.