Council Debates Sand, Salt Storage Ordinance

A new dry bulk storage ordinance would be good for the environment and help the City regulate giant piles of sand, mulch, salt, and other dry goods, according to Ward 1 City Councilor Fred Capone.

But the Council will take at least two more weeks before taking any action on Capone’s proposed ordinance, giving city officials time to see how surrounding communities have implemented and enforced similar ordinances.

“Right now, there is no regulation in place to protect the soil, air, and water in the community,” said Capone. The proposed ordinance calls for an annual fee of $10 per every 25 cubic yards of dried goods such as sand, salt, and mulch and would give the City Council oversight of those licenses.

Capone said the ordinance is a work in progress and admitted that there has been some push back about the proposed fee being too high.

“I think what we are going to find is that it is too little,” said Capone.

While 25 cubic yards of material might not sound like a lot, Capone said that figure equates to 54,000 pounds of salt, 81,000 pounds of sand, and up to 20,000 pounds of mulch.

When it comes to enforcement of the amount of dry goods that are licensed, Capone said the City is going to have to depend on what is presented in the applications, and the Inspectional Services Department (ISD) eyeballing the dry goods storage.

“We’re not going to be able to go out there with a measuring stick or a measuring cup,” Capone said. “But without this, we have no protection, and we desperately need protection.”

Ward 5 City Councilor Rose DiFlorio said she has given a lot of thought to the proposal and is troubled by how the city will be able to enforce it.

“We don’t have the experience for this,” said DiFlorio. “There’s no rush to do this.”

The environmental impact, she said, is largely regulated by the state.

“Because this is new, we should find other cities and towns that are doing this,” said DiFlorio. “Let’s get this right the first time. My gut is telling me that this is unenforceable.”

DiFlorio recommended the City Solicitor review the proposal and get input on how other communities with similar ordinances on the books enforce it before bringing it back before the Council in two weeks. The council agreed to bring the issue back at its next meeting.

Assistant City Solicitor Keith Slattery said he has reviewed the ordinance and supports it, and noted that some other local municipalities, including Cambridge and Lynn, have passed similar ordinances.

“I do think we need to continue to work on this, but we should get something on the books to protect us today and tomorrow,” said Ward 6 Councilor Michael McLaughlin. “Councilor DiFlorio is right that we should look at what other communities do, but we need something on the books to protect the City of Everett.”

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