NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - The New Brunswick City Council is preparing to adopt a first-of-its-kind law that could seriously hurt students and renters in the city.
The law, which had its first reading on July 20, would enact an annual one-month moratorium on equipment and bulk waste pick-ups from May 10 to June 10. The vast majority of rental agreements in New Brunswick begin and end during this period, often leading to a need for the disposal of furniture and other items.
Current policy permits year-round bulk pick-ups of up to six additional items on regular garbage days, so long as the resident notifies the Department of Public Works by 1pm the day before.
“Rather than meet the increased demand, the city’s approach is to give up on the homeowners and renters when sanitation services are needed most.” said John Aspray, an elected Democratic Committeeman representing one of the predominantly student neighborhoods.
If the law is adopted on Wednesday August 3rd, many fear it will cause outgoing residents to hide bulk items or place them curbside in front of other people’s properties.
“This law will create perverse incentives for people to hide their garbage and make it the next tenant’s problem. That’s just bad for everybody,” said Sean Monahan, Democratic Committeeman representing district that includes mostly non-students.
First-offense fines of $250-$500, plus $100 per item, will be levied on the property owner, but will likely be passed along to tenants by way of deducting it from their security deposits. Third offenses carry a fine of $2,000, and all violations require a court appearance.
But Rutgers students, who will be most affected by the change because their leases are often timed to coincide with the school year, are fighting the law and hoping to craft a better solution.
Matt Cordiero, the elected President of the Rutgers University Student Assembly, said “Issues like these are exactly why the mayor created a Student-City Advisory Committee. That committee should examine this law and its effects before it is adopted.”
The committee, created in 2009, has only met three times and currently has no scheduled meetings. It is chaired by the city’s Mayor of 21 years, James Cahill.
The proposed law, championed by Councilman Kevin Egan, is scheduled for a public hearing and final vote at the Council’s Wednesday night meeting at 5:30pm in City Hall, 78 Bayard St.