South Portland weighs limits on nighttime waste hauling, construction

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SOUTH PORTLAND — City Councilor Claude Morgan wants the city to address complaints about loud, nighttime waste collection and construction work.

In a workshop Monday night, Morgan proposed an ordinance amendment that would prohibit waste hauling and construction in some zones or within 500 feet of residences between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m.

But Morgan said he wasn’t “married” to the timing, and other councilors suggested the limit be reduced to between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. 

“These are starting points for discussion and action,” Morgan said.

According to his proposal, failure to comply with the restriction could lead to fines, and business license suspension or revocation.

Examples of complaints included paving in a commercial zone at night within earshot of nearby residences, and trash collection at businesses adjacent to residences before 6 a.m.

Construction and excavation between the hours of 9 p.m. and 7 a.m. without a permit from the city is prohibited in residential zones, but not other zones. No rules exist to restrict the hours of operation for waste haulers. 

TJ Troiano, of Troiano Waste Services, said Monday that a large part of the reasoning behind early hours of operation is to get work done before morning traffic begins. He noted many lots are difficult for waste trucks to navigate with surrounding pedestrian and vehicle traffic. 

Resident Julie Suiter said the noise has affected her job performance.

Suiter, a paramedic/firefighter, said she is often woken up by the “beep-beep-beep” of trucks. She cited one morning in particular when she was woke at 4 a.m. and had to miss work the next morning. 

“I can’t go to work the next day and make a mistake,” Suiter said. “I can’t afford it because I’m dealing with people’s lives.”

Peter Cook, of Thompson Street, added that 4-5 a.m. is too early to be operating heavy machinery in the first place. 

Mayor Patti Smith spoke in favor of the amendments. 

“It’s important for people to get their sleep,” she said. “Clearly a reasonable hour in the morning to be woken up is 6 or 7 a.m. and not any sooner than that.”

Morgan noted that the amendments wouldn’t mean the city would issue penalties, it just means it could. He said he’d send his proposal to the city’s corporation counsel to draft an ordinance amendment for the council to consider.

“This really is about health and public safety,” Morgan said. “I hear what the haulers are saying. They say it’s not convenient for them to haul during the day … but consequently, the time that is convenient for them is really inconvenient for residents.” 

Jocelyn Van Saun can be reached at 781-3661, ext. 183 or Follow her on Twitter @JocelynVanSaun.