Columbus leaders discuss changing brush policy

Published 8:00 am Thursday, July 26, 2018

Town could change pickup from once a week to once a month

COLUMBUS — The town of Columbus is beginning to keep records of how much brush it picks up from residents on a weekly basis, to see if the town can go to monthly pickups instead.

Columbus has taken its brush to Henson’s in Tryon for years, where the material is ground up for the town to use as mulch.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“[Henson’s has] taken the brush [for] free up until recently, when they began to charge $45 per load,” said Columbus Town Manager Tim Barth. “The town looked into other options for getting rid of brush, and the landfill charges $30 per ton, which works better for the town, except for having to haul it to the landfill.”

Barth has suggested changing the town’s brush policy to limit each residence to one dump truck load of brush per month. Currently, the town collects brush left roadside by residents every Friday.

“Though it cannot be proven, there have been some cases where people not in Columbus have come in and placed their brush where the town then becomes responsible for picking it up,” Barth said. “This amendment to the brush policy would help alleviate much of that problem.”

Council members discussed last week whether the town should just purchase its own chipper and give the mulch to residents.

Public Works Director James Smith said the problem with a chipper is the man-hours it would take to operate it.

Councilman Mark Phillips suggested setting a schedule for pickups, so residents would know when brush is being picked up, with the town setting a fee for excessive amounts.

But Councilman Richard Hall said brush pickup is a service provided to residents.

“The way I look at it, we are taxing the people, and this is a service we supply,” Hall said.

To him, the pickup every Friday seems to work, Hall said.

“It’s something nice for the people of our town,” he said.

Smith said some people abuse the service, with some instance of employees picking up brush one day and the next day, it is filled back up again.

Columbus resident Ernie Kan said if the town starts picking up brush only once per  month, there will be snakes all through the town. She said she has had brush sitting out for two months.

“If you could do it every other week, that would be better than once a month,” Kan said.

The town’s brush policy states that:

• All grass clippings and yard debris be placed in bags or water resistant containers that can be loaded by one person, and must not include trash

• Large limbs be cut so that one person can load them

• Trees, stumps, lumber, metal, shingles, appliances, bedding, furniture, homeowner construction material, etc., will not be picked up

• Leaves are to be placed in bags

• No brush will be picked up by the town in which the cutting has been hired out

• No brush will be picked up that has been hauled in from other locations

• Clearing of lots or other large areas require advance pickup arrangements made at town hall, with the town manager approving or disapproving, with a possible fee to cover the disposal expenses

The proposed amendments to the brush policy include that each residence will be provided one load per month of brush pickup.

The council tabled the amendments to the brush policy during its meeting last week. Members also directed the public works department to keep records on brush pickup until the end of the calendar year, so the town can consider the amendments then.