Local Politics

3 Mayors Oppose Raleigh's Garbage Disposal Ban

Posted March 14, 2008 7:36 p.m. EDT
Updated March 18, 2008 5:23 p.m. EDT

— Mayors of three Wake County towns on Raleigh's water system expressed opposition to the city's ban on new garbage disposals, and Raleigh officials apologized for what they called communication errors.

On Tuesday last week, the Raleigh City Council voted to ban the installation of any new garbage disposals from March 17. Officials said the ban is intended to stop residents from pouring grease down the drain, which has caused 99 sewer overflows since 2005.

Residents of Garner, Knightdale, Rolesville, Wake Forest, Wendell and Zebulon must also comply with the regulations, because their towns receive potable water from Raleigh.

"Just to take a drastic, sudden move is ridiculous," Rolesville Mayor Frank Eagles said. "It's beginning to feel like we've got a dictatorship going on."

Mayors of those six towns meet with Raleigh leaders Friday and complained that city officials did not consult them before announcing the ban.

"We want to be consulted. We want to be part of the decision-making process," Garner Mayor Ronnie Williams said. "We think since our revenue helps pay their debt service and we contribute in a fair fashion, we ought to be part of the discussion."

"I think there's a communication problem between all of the towns that are supposedly partners," Eagles said. "And that's got to be fixed."

Williams said that he hopes Raleigh will re-consider the ban. "If they see that the backlash is greater than anticipated, there may be a move to rescind it," he said.

Reworking the ordinance would take another vote by the Raleigh City Council, and the city's mayor, Charles Meeker, indicated that he is not likely to support that re-opening debate on the subject.

Meeker cited environmental benefits in favor of the ban.

"The disposals are a big environmental impact in a negative direction on the system, in terms of the water it uses, grease," Meeker said. "I don't think there's any question about that."

The state Division of Water Quality has threatened to fine the city for sewer overflows of more than 1,000 gallons.

Raleigh Councilman Philip Isley said he will bring up the ban at the council's next meeting on Tuesday, March 18. Isley said he will push to either rescind the ban or send the ordinance to a sub-committee for further consideration.

"It's not going to stop the problem," Isley said, adding that he did not think having a garbage disposal would stop people from pouring grease down the drain.

Isley was not present at the original March 4 vote on the garbage disposal ban, due to a court deposition.

City officials apologized to local mayors for what they called communication errors.

Some mayors, though, said they think Raleigh's unilateral decision-making might already have gone too far for them.

"If we'd known it's going to be like this, we would have gone to Henderson and Franklin County and said, 'Let's tap onto your water system,'" Eagles said. "And that may still be an option."