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Board takes on modular buildings, speed, trash

Concerned citizens criticized the city’s new trash collection policies and asked for lower speed limits on one of the city’s nicest streets, while an alderwoman struck a temporary blow in the board’s nearly 10-year war on modular buildings.

Brookhaven’s William Price and Roy Smith addressed a Tuesday-night meeting of the Brookhaven Board of Aldermen by complaining rates for city trash collection have remained the same at $21.50 per household while the number of pickups per week were reduced from two to one. Brookhaven Mayor Joe Cox explained the price for dual pickups under former garbage company Waste Pro were calculated in 2012 and were not offered by Arrow Disposal Service Inc., the city’s new trash collection contractor.

“One of the reasons we went from two times per week to one time per week was to try to keep your costs down,” Cox said. “We’re gonna try this and see how it goes, and if we have some issues, it can be discussed. So give it a chance.”

Arrow took over trash collection duties in Brookhaven and Lincoln County on Oct. 1 following a disastrous year for Waste Pro in which thousands of missed pickups caused city and county crews to play cleanup all summer, resulting in Waste Pro’s proposal for a new three-year contract being all but ignored by both local governments.

After two weeks on the job, residents of the city and county are still adjusting to Arrow’s way of doing business. Complaints have arisen about the once-per-week pickup, with some grumbling the 96-gallon trash cans get too heavy for elderly citizens to manage with only one collection run each week.

While Price and Smith talked trash, South Jackson Street resident Sarah Reynolds asked for the speed limit on her street to be dropped from 30 mph to 25 mph. She pointed out most downtown streets are capped at 25 mph, saying South Jackson Street and Natchez Avenue are the only two streets in the neighborhood with higher limits.

Reynolds told aldermen vehicle accidents at 25 mph result in a 5 percent chance of a fatality, while accidents at 30 mph jump to a 35 percent chance. A 2017 study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety said each speed limit increase of 5 mph brings with it an extra 4 percent chance of a fatal wreck.

“We try to keep our children from running out into the streets, but as parents there’s only so much we can do,” Reynolds said.

Dungan Engineering Principal Ryan Holmes reminded aldermen state law requires a traffic study before adjusting speed limits in either direction and that setting limits was subjective.

Ward 2 Alderman Shannon Moore asked if the Brookhaven Police Department planned to run extra patrols on South Jackson Street — police chief Kenneth Collins said his officers are already monitoring the area. Moore also expressed concern lowering the speed limit on South Jackson Street would result in the board being swamped with calls requesting new limits on other streets across the city.

“We’re going to make the speed limit on South Jackson Street different from the speed limit on Martin Luther King?” he asked.

During the aldermen’s report period toward the end of the meeting, the board voted 6-1 — with Moore opposed — to place a 90-day moratorium on the city’s ordinance governing modular buildings. Alderwoman-at-Large Karen Sullivan asked for the temporary freeze for the placing of modular buildings in commercial-zoned areas and got it, with the option of adding another 90 days if aldermen need more time to “strengthen the ordinance.”

“When we passed this ordinance years ago, there were no businesses that sold them. Since then, we have an influx of them, eight years later,” she said. “There is an influx of them up and down Hwy. 51, but only three of them have come before the board to go through proper channels.”