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Curbside bags in the tote era? Public can air its views

Trash talk is on the agenda for tonight's Tonawanda Town Board meeting, but there's no reason to get riled.

A public hearing is scheduled on another option for getting garbage to the curb: using clear or translucent disposable plastic bags for yard wastes, as well as construction and demolition debris.

"We want to make sanitation as simple as we can," said Bradley A. Rowles, the town's highway superintendent.

Much of the town's housing dates from the 1950s, Rowles explained, and work being done to update homes generates construction and demolition debris.

Residents already may set bundled and tied materials, including drywall and lumber, out to the curb. Lighter and crumbly debris typically has been mixed with household wastes in the town-issued garbage totes distributed last year.

Under the proposed amendment to the local law on solid-waste management, that other debris could be bagged, but the bag would need to be sealed.

The tote still is the container of choice, Rowles said, but sometimes it is not enough -- especially after cutting a lush lawn.

However, this year "we didn't get a lot of yard waste because the grass didn't grow at a normal rate," he said.

Meanwhile, the use of garbage totes appears to have caught on with town residents.

The wheeled bins with attached, hinged lids were implemented to combat a rodent problem that spread from Buffalo into the first-ring suburbs. After distribution was completed in the town, complaints about rats to the Erie County Health Department dropped by more than 50 percent.

A common complaint from residents -- particularly senior citizens -- was the size of the totes.

All households initially received 95-gallon "monsters" that raised concerns about their maneuverability and storage. The town allows smaller households to downsize to 65-gallon totes.

"Change is hard," Rowles said. "This was a big change."


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