Trash haulers must wait for decision

LAWRENCEVILLE - Two residential trash haulers threatened with termination now have their paperwork in line, but county commissioners said they are unsure if the companies can be trusted to pick up garbage.

County Commissioner Bert Nasuti said he was "bombarded" with complaints about Quality Waste and Red Oak Sanitation earlier in the year, after one of the companies removed trash cans from some customers' homes.

Quality Waste owner Richard Watson said the removal was a mistake. He said the move was meant to get the company out of an area where business was thin, but residents were not properly notified about the decision.

"It was just a huge error," Watson said. "We tried to rectify it."

Watson said he will talk to commissioners, who tabled until Tuesday a decision on whether to allow the companies to go forward with their businesses, this week.

Stub Luce, who owns Red Oak Sanitation, said he was upset the companies were lumped together for the decision. The February termination notice gave the haulers until the end of March to have the proper bonds and insurance in place, but required them to reapply for the right to pick up garbage in the county.

Luce said after 25 years in the business, he's now in a "wait-and-see" mode before learning if his company can continue.

Nasuti said he will talk to Gwinnett Clean and Beautiful about both haulers. He said he was concerned residents had the rug pulled out from under them when cans were removed.

"They picked up their stuff, they picked up their cans, and said 'Have a nice life,'" Nasuti said. "They thumbed their nose at the citizenry. ... In all my years in government, I haven't seen citizens treated that way."

Both companies said they have lost hundreds of customers as a result of the termination and reapplication. Nasuti said he is keeping an open mind about whether to allow the haulers to continue operating, but that it is not the board's job to keep people in business.

"You have no right to be a trash hauler; you earn it," Nasuti said. "My concern is that if they did it once, they'll do it again."

The termination is unrelated to a new trash plan, slated to begin in 2009, that divides the county into eight service areas. It will also have no bearing on the companies' ability to apply to pick up waste as part of that plan, currently in the draft stage and being reviewed by the Atlanta Regional Commission and the state's Department of Community Affairs.

Commissioners Tuesday also approved an application from a commercial trash hauler, Operations Management International, Inc.