A Falmouth commercial refuse hauler was granted permission by the town to begin collecting trash as early as 2 AM.
“It is a matter of public safety,” said George Heufelder, member of the Falmouth Board of Health, at Monday’s meeting. The board issues licenses to commercial haulers, allowing them to only collect from 7 AM to 7 PM per town code. But they have the authority to grant off-hours collections when deemed necessary.
Carl F. Cavossa Jr., owner of Cavossa Disposal Corporation, said he prefers his drivers and trucks to collect in the early morning to avoid clogging traffic flow and blocking sidewalks heaving with pedestrians.
“Our trucks spend 50 percent of their life in reverse when collecting trash. Although there haven’t been any incidences yet, I want to ensure no one gets injured,” he said. He mentioned his drivers have difficulty navigating through Woods Hole, especially in the summer, with the uptick in Steamship Authority traffic.
With the increase of traffic and summer residents comes an increase in noise complaints.
“It’s harder in the summer because there simply are more residents and more people are sleeping with the windows open,” he said.
Mr. Cavossa admits he regularly sends drivers out well before 7 AM, and sometimes it causes abutters to commercial businesses to object.
“It’s common practice in Falmouth, and in towns everywhere, to start early in the morning. I just want to be 100 percent correct in doing so,” he said.
Over the years, Mr. Cavossa said he fields any complaints received personally or by the police department by scheduling certain pickups later in the route. Ten years ago, trash pickups at Friendly’s Restaurant sparked several noise complaints. Mr. Cavossa said he accommodated by moving the collection to a later time.
“I have a good working relationship with the police, but the problem is I can’t pick everyone up later in the day. It’s just not feasible with 150 dumpsters to be emptied.”
He collects trash from commercial businesses throughout town—from Falmouth Technology Park to Woods Hole. When planning routes, he considers the accessibility of the dumpsters, traffic patterns, and refuse that would become odoriferous the longer it sits, like a dumpster full of seafood. A typical route takes up to eight hours to complete.
“I am trying to balance public safety and my customers’ needs. I am very aware that we are a tourism town and that people don’t want to be woken up at 6 AM. But at the end of the day, I provide a service for my customers,” he said.
Assistant health agent Scott McGann said he typically receives five to 10 individual trash-related noise complaints per summer, and none during the winter.
“If we were to grant you an off-hours license, we would want you to be sensitive to residents’ concerns, which you seem to be,” board member John B. Waterbury said.
“It’s my name and number on the side of the trucks and I am involved in the community, so I don’t want people mad at me,” he said, agreeing to be in direct contact with the health department to field complaints.
After more discussion, the board unanimously voted to grant a six-month off-hours’ license upon conditions that the hauler address residents’ complaints and he disengages the audible truck alarm until sunrise.
“What may be an issue is when the trucks lift the dumpster and shake the heck out of it,” Mr. Waterbury said.
“Listen, my drivers don’t want to pick up at 9 AM when they have to navigate traffic, so they do everything they can to be as quiet as possible,” Mr. Cavossa said.
He received letters of support for his request from the Falmouth Police Department, the Woods Hole Village Association and the Falmouth Village Association. Mr. Heufelder agreed to the request based on these letters of support and Mr. Cavossa’s customer service history.
Since this is the first time the board has ever issued a trash hauler license for off-hours, they agreed it should expire in six months and can be revoked if the conditions are not met. If the board is satisfied that Mr. Cavossa is adequately addressing any resident complaints, they will in December issue him a full-year license.