Local News

Chapel Hill May Put the Lid on Backyard Trash Pickup

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CHAPEL HILL — A messy issue is stirring up folks in Chapel Hill.

Right now, trash collectors have to climb hills, bound through brush and fight off dogs just to get to the garbage for backyard pickup.

Moving at record speed, they rack up 20 miles a route on foot and haul about six tons of trash a day.

"Backyard service is a luxury service," says sanitation superintendent Harv Howard. "It's a very uncommon service."

And it may become unavailable in Chapel Hill, where the town council is considering curbside service.

Some say the service is antiquated and does not fit a growing area with more than 90,000 homes.

There is also the cost to consider.

"The conversion from backyard to curbside is a huge monetary savings for the citizens themselves," Howard says.

The savings could total $50,000 the first year amd more than $400,000 over a six-year period.

People against curbside pickup are concerned that trashbins left along the street could tarnish the town's image.

They are worried the trash will not stay in the can, but end up in the streets instead. Others disagree.

"I think we will take care of our neighborhoods if we want to," resident Tim Stephens says.

"As long as we provide it for those people who can't get their trash out to the street, I'm in support of it," says Stephens.

If the town switches to curbside, it will continue backyard service for the elderly and the disabled.

Either way, the town council hopes to put a lid on the issue soon.

A public hearing is planned for May 10 at 7 p.m.