MANCHESTER, NH – This week, owners of about 1,500 multi-family buildings with five or more apartments received letters notifying them the city will no longer pick up their trash beginning Dec. 1.
“If they’re going to provide me with less services, I think I should get a tax abatement,” said Bill Stergios who owns a 21-unit apartment building at 150 Bridge St. where Julian’s Breakfast Place was located. “They say tenants need more affordable housing and now they’re making it more expensive for the tenants because landlords will have an excuse to raise the rents even higher. They’re hurting the people they said they intend to protect.”
Christine Duffley is another landlord who was taken by surprise by the change. She owns two buildings that no longer will have trash pick-up services; a 4-unit building with an additional private office at 269-271 Bridge St., and an 11-unit building at 159 Hall St.
“Where do I put a dumpster?” she said of her Bridge Street property. “There’s no space.”
Duffley and Stergios also questioned why there wasn’t a public hearing on the matter.
Chaz Newton, the city’s Solid Waste & Environmental Programs Manager in the Department of Public Works (DPW), said while the change will save the city about $200,000 annually the reason for it was to “mitigate the rodent infestation.”
Newton does not know if the change will free up any solid waste employees “at this time. But not every position is filled – there are some vacancies — so I don’t see any reduction in solid waste employees.”
The ordinance change is a result of a collaboration among DPW, Planning and Community Development and the Health Department.
For 2021-22, the health department noted five instances of rat activity in the city, mostly in the center city.
On Jan. 27, 2023, however, a 7-year-old girl was bitten in her family’s 127 Orange St. apartment, which is outside the downtown area. Landlord Hinch-Crowley Realty Associates of Nashua agreed to pay tenant Mami Tunda $4,200 after she filed a petition against them in 9th Circuit Court – District Division – Manchester for substandard living conditions.
Newton said DPW first presented the proposed change in April to the aldermanic Solid Waste Committee. The proposal subsequently went to the committee on second reading, then the committee on accounts and finally to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen on Sept. 6 where it was placed on the consent agenda, passing unanimously.
“We didn’t hear from anybody opposing it at the time,” Newton said.
He said DPW picks up trash twice a week in two densely populated areas of the city – downtown (Center City) and an area on the West Side. Garbage is picked up once a week in all other areas of the city.
The problem, he said, is not all large buildings are located in those two areas and DPW cannot provide that twice-a-week service citywide. Private haulers, however, have the ability to tailor services to individual buildings.
Private companies, he said, can provide property owners with a dumpster and pick up garbage as frequently or infrequently as the owner wants.
Below: A copy of the ordinance recently passed by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen:
“We want to work with property owners during this transition period,” Newton said. “If a property owner needs any accommodation with getting a private hauler we can provide them with a list of private haulers. If they need special accommodations at their property, we are happy to work with them and help them find a hauler.”
The list, he said, is of haulers registered in the State of NH with the Department of Environmental Services. He said many of them may specialize in a specific type of waste, or may not even operate anymore. Some of the companies may offer dumpster only, while some offer receptacle collection as well.
Stergios envisions some property owners just letting the garbage pile up.
Newton said in instances like that DPW would inspect the property and take enforcement action if necessary. He said the process is to give notice of the violation and educate the property owner. They then have a number of days to correct the violation before the property is reinspected. At that point, a citation could be issued if the problem still existed.
Below: A list of trash haulers registered with the state.