Q&A: Single Stream vs. Separated Recycling

I received these questions on Facebook, and you may have the same questions, so I am sharing this Q&A for all.

– So you’re saying the curbside recycling ends up in the landfill, but if we take it to the local drop off containers that doesn’t end up in the landfill?

– Is there any evidence that the recycling ends up in the landfill?

Most of what I’ve read indicates that approximately 25% of single stream recyclables end up going straight to the landfill.  We don’t have any oversight at Pratt, so we don’t know exactly how much of ours goes in.  If you think about it, it makes sense: if a person puts, for example, a used pizza box into their recycling cart, it contaminates the rest of the material in the cart. Now, most or all of that cart won’t be recycled.  We’ll still pay the increased rate of $65 (current, could raise further at any point)/ton instead of the $25/ton for the landfill. Similarly, consider this: if I recycle my newspapers in the same bin as my aluminum cans but don’t rinse and dry those cans before tossing them in with everything else, the paper (and any cardboard) can get contaminated.  My contaminated material gets dumped in the truck, and then my neighbors gets dumped in too.  More mixing of materials = more contamination. So we pay $65/ton, and all that contaminated material goes to the landfill. Even if we’re all making our best effort not to contaminate materials, accidents happen (single stream makes that easy too), and the result is still the same. Single stream curbside recycling is convenient because we don’t sort our materials.  But someone still has to do that work—machines and/or people (at the MRF)—and it’s never as effective as a system that doesn’t mix recyclables in the first place. As I understand it, when single stream first became popular (in the early 90s), this was less of a concern because China was willing to accept materials that were somewhat contaminated (ex. bulk paper barrels that didn’t have to be completely clean). Then, they stopped. And now they’ve stopped accepting our recyclables altogether.  This has driven the cost up and affected what does or does not get recycled.  When we sort the materials ourselves and recycle them via a container system as opposed to through single stream (mixing them all together), there is less contamination and more recyclable material makes it to the MRF rather than the landfill. I believe that we have an obligation to be good stewards of the environment.  So separating my recyclables and depositing them at an appropriate facility is something I am personally willing to do and something that I hope our fellow residents will as well. We will be launching a reduce, reuse, recycle educational campaign to help people understand how they can have the biggest impact on the environment, which I also think is important because reducing waste and reusing non-recyclables is just as important as recycling.  Also, our Community Relations Specialist is putting together some FAQS for the website that will address questions like what to do with cans. Stay tuned for that.

Read my original post on ending curbside recycling and my previous Q&A post on ending curbside recycling.

Photo by Sigmund on Unsplash

Q&A: Master Plan and Youth Engagement

Q: I would like to hear more about the “Master Plan” and the Youth Council please.

A: Thanks for your interest about these initiatives. You can read one of my posts about the Downtown Master Plan here: http://ow.ly/B6NO30pQKWC.

That includes a link to the city’s website page with additional information. Mayor Curtis and Councilman Hutchings serve on that group with our City Administrator and other staff. I understand they met yesterday, so one of them likely have the very latest updates.

Other posts I’ve provided about downtown are here: http://ow.ly/DIvl30pQKWX

You can read about the Youth Advisory Board here: http://ow.ly/7HpR30pQKXf.
Our Community Relations Specialist, Justin Campbell, is responsible for that. You can email him for additional information (jcampbell@simpsonville.com).

Hope that helps you with the information you’re looking for. Have a great day!

Q&A: Has Crime Decreased in Simpsonville?

“Has Crime Decreased in Simpsonville?” This question, or the implication that crime has risen in the last few years, comes up every now and then. I recently compared monthly Police Department reports that I have received since January 2016. It looked to me like crime has decreased recently. So I asked Chief Hanshaw for a comprehensive yearly comparison based on reported crime over the past 4 years within the City of Simpsonville. You can see the raw numbers below. Please note that some of the reported incidents reflected in this report could have been unfounded, or found to be false at a later date. The data was researched and compiled using the Police Department’s report management system, LawTrak. Our PD is fully staffed with some of the best law enforcement professionals around. As individuals and as a Department, they have recently received awards and accolades for their work. I’m #SimplyProud of the hard-working men and women of the Simpsonville Police Department for keeping us #SimplySafe! If you have any questions, concerns, or need for clarification regarding the report, please contact Chief Hanshaw or Cpl. Chandler at SPD.crime slide

Q&A with LWV 2

Question: What is the biggest threat to quality of life in Simpsonville?

Answer: The biggest threat to quality of life in Simpsonville would be failure to plan strategically for the future. In 2015, when I decided to run for Council, it was because the leadership at the time had stopped focusing on what’s best for Simpsonville. Their focus on other things distracted them from very real problems, such as our aging and increasingly inoperable Public Works equipment.They put in place short-term fixes for problems that required long-term, sustainable solutions. This had a negative impact on quality of life in our city. I’ve spent almost four years working to correct course. We absolutely must continue to focus on long-term, strategic planning that creates sustainable services for our residents. I will continue to address it by focusing on maintaining our healthy general fund balance; economic development and smart growth; and pushing for completion of long-term planning initiatives like the Downtown Master Plan and the Comprehensive Plan.

What’s with all The BoZA Meetings?

At the last Committee of the Whole meeting (9-24-19), we discussed current and upcoming items before the Board of Zoning Appeals. As we discussed, BoZA has been hearing a number of the same requests: special exceptions for construction services. As Mr. Derby explained, 3 have already been before BoZA, and a fourth is on the docket for this evening. In short, these construction companies are requesting to open offices in areas zoned Business General (or, as in tonight’s, R-OI, which is Residential–Neighborhood Office and Institution).  They’ve no onsite storage or vehicles.  In other words, as Mr. Knudsen explained when I asked the question, they’re like any other office that would be allowed in B-G.  Because their business type is “construction,” they have to request special permission via BoZA for what is an allowed exception per our Zoning Ordinance. Why is it allowed? Because it’s to establish an office like any other office.  We’re talking desks and phones and a couple of employees.  All construction-related equipment and so forth would be stored elsewhere.  Realistically, you’d never know these offices were for construction companies except for their names. The full procedure for determining whether nor not a request meets the criteria for Special Exception is located in Article 7 of the Zoning Ordinance. It’s quite detailed.

As a reminder: you can listen to that meeting and all of our Council meetings online.  In this one, you’ll hear Mr. Knudsen explain more, including why we’re receiving so many of these requests now and what we’re doing about it.

audio

Also, if you’re interested, R-OI is established to promote and accommodate residential uses, offices, and institutions in areas that are not exclusively residential or nonresidential by nature. Although nonresidential uses may be permitted, the intent of
this district is to preserve the residential character of the area through careful attention to the scale and form of development. Furthermore, it is the intent of
this district to discourage uses that generate excessive traffic or any other activity that would be largely incompatible with the residential nature of the district. The BoZA will ask questions tonight to determine whether or not this particular request fits. Some items they will consider include:

A. The volume and type of sales;
B. The size and type of items sold and the
nature of the inventory on the premises;
C. Any processing done on the premises,
including assembly, manufacturing,
warehousing, shipping, and distribution;
D. The nature and location of storage and
outdoor display of merchandise;
E. The type, size, and nature of structures;
F. The number of employees and customers
and hours of operation;
G. Traffic generation and parking turnover;
H. The amount and nature of any nuisances
generated on the premises, including but not
limited to noise, smoke, odor, glare,
vibration, radiation, and fumes; and
I. Other impacts related to health, safety, and
general welfare.

Then, they will approve or not and issue a Finding of Facts regarding their decision. Meeting is at 5:30.  The Finding of Fact Looks kind of like this one from the one we discussed at the 9-24 Meeting:

fof 1fof2

Q&A with LWV

The League of Women Voters posed this question: “If elected, what will be your top three priorities?”

My Answer:

The #1 most important issue to me is strategic, long-term planning for the future. When I first took office, there was no long-term planning happening on Council. There was no vision for the future of Simpsonville, and no plan to achieve a better, brighter future. We have made significant changes in the last several years. We have a capital improvement plan. We’re working on the Downtown Master Plan. We traded in the previous Council’s “pay as you go” strategy for dealing with the sewer. We have planned for fiscally sustainable services (police, fire, public works, and recreation), not just for next year but for ten years down the road. Three long-term planning priorities are:

  1. Completion and implementation of the Downtown Master Plan
  2. Revisions to the City’s Comprehensive Plan
  3. Focus on smart growth, which encourages a mix of building types and uses, diverse housing and transportation options, development within existing neighborhoods, and community engagement.

Q&A: The S. Baldwin Entry/Exit at Waterleaf

I recently received a question about the S. Baldwin entry/exit to Waterleaf.  The gentleman who called me specifically remembered when we had worked out with the developer that the entry and exit onto S. Baldwin will be gated and protected by a Knox Box. You can read that original post here, where I explained that this will prevent anyone other than emergency vehicles from entering.  Emergency vehicles must be able to enter because that’s required.  This resolved concerns citizens and we, as Council, had regarding the ability of S. Baldwin to handle the additional traffic.

His question now was whether or not we had changed the requirements, given it looks like the development is nearly complete (and people are moving in) but there’s no gate or box.

I checked in with our Planning and Economic Development Director, Jason Knudsen who told me that while the apartment complex looks complete, they are still finishing a few things.  The S. Baldwin entry/exit is for construction purposes until everything is complete.  It will be gated and have the Knox Box lock once construction is complete. Mr. Knudsen assures me that the City will require the gate before the final Certificate of Occupancy is issued.

The Knox Box/Gate requirement was one of only 5 important changes that led to our approval of the Waterleaf development.  Again, you can read about this example of our commitment to smart growth here.  Overall, I think Waterleaf at Neely Ferry, with its mixed use, walkability, green space, and the public road improvements, is a great addition to Simpsonville.

waterleaf

Railroad Ties @ Coachwood

Serving on City Council isn’t just about showing up to meetings. Sometimes, for example, it’s showing up to a neighborhood in your Ward on Saturday morning to check out a constituent concern. Today that neighborhood is Coachwood and the concern is this giant pile of railroad ties. I discovered that it’s taller than I am in places! And I agree with the citizen who expressed concern: it’s unsightly and needs to be removed ASAP. I spoke to the City Administrator and Public Works Director, and they assure me that we are working closely with the railroad to have them remove their debris in a timely fashion. I’ll keep following up with staff. As I’ve said before, I’m proud to live in Simpsonville and proud to live in Ward 3, and I will always advocate for the best interests of the city and my neighbors. Want to share your own concern? You can always use the website like this citizen did. Here’s the link: http://ow.ly/wG1W30pA2l2. Alternatively, my email is JHulehan@simpsonville.com. Have a wonderful Saturday!

Q&A: Heritage Park/Holiday Light Show

Recently, I received a question from a resident regarding Heritage Park.  She wanted to know whether or not the park would be closed again this year for the holiday light show. As she correctly pointed out, “The past two years, the city has closed the entire park for about a three month period to accommodate the holiday light show. Last year, the park closed starting around October 12th and remained closed until about January 15th. This is about a 13-week period, so a full 25% of the calendar year.”

As I told her in my response, “Let me start by saying that I agree with you: closing a public park for a quarter of the year is unacceptable.”  And I’m not the only one. Many residents agree, and they’ve voiced their concern over the past year.  When I reached out to Mr. Robbie Davis, Parks and Recreation Director, he said he’d heard and understood this concern and was already working with TRZ to try to keep the park open to the public as long as possible.  TRZ did its part by negotiating with the company responsible for the light show to try to keep the park open longer, with the goal being to close it no longer than one month.  Ultimately, they were unable to reach an agreement to that end, and TRZ decided to forego the holiday lights show this year.

In the words of Mr. Roger Dickson from TRZ, the “park being closed that long for taxpayers is just not the right thing to do.”  And I agree.  It’s a public park; it’s your park.  If it’s closed to all but paying customers for an entire quarter of the year, you’re not getting to make use of your park.

So unfortunately there will be no holiday light show this year, but the park will be open for you, the public, to use…just as it was intended.

Q&A: HP’s + $80k

Another thing recent survey comments has brought to light: there’s some misinformation out there regarding the Heritage Park Amphitheater budget. And I can see how residents might be upset and/or confused regarding this part of the budget.

Take, for example, this comment:

“A large chunk of money has been moved to the Heritage Park account. Until that is explained, I don’t support any increase.”

So I’d like to clear that up: the money for the HP Amphitheatre comes from hospitality/ accommodations tax, which is collected and held in our Special Revenue Fund. City staff indicates an increase in revenue of approx. $99,000 this year. That money must by law be spent on tourism-related expenses. The additional $80,000 in this year’s budget is for the 4th of July event and other qualifying events the city will plan over the course of the year.

One resident offered this advice on the budget:

“Take the money from the 80k in the proposed budget from entertainment…”

That would be great, but let’s be clear: No money from the General Fund goes to any of the HP Amphitheater expenses. None. It all comes from the Special Revenue Fund, and the use of that money is dictated by State law. No money from the Special Revenue Fund can be used on city services like sanitation. So we can’t move that $80k to pay for trash/leaves/brush.

You can read the city’s ordinance regarding hospitality tax here. State law is here.