A Dunwoody city councilmember has expressed anger with the mayor’s attempt to block early-morning garbage pickup, accusing the mayor of wanting “preferential schedules” for certain areas, including one near his home.

City Councilmember Doug Thompson was visibly upset at the Oct. 10 City Council meeting with Mayor Denis Shortal’s recommendation the city renew its agreement with DeKalb County for garbage pickup, but amend the agreement to stop garbage trucks from rolling before 8 a.m. in certain commercial and residential areas.

Shortal’s proposal failed, but not before Thompson had some choice words for the mayor.

“This just angers me,” Thompson told Shortal, saying the pickup schedule was giving “preferential treatment” to certain neighborhoods, including the mayor’s.

“That’s just flat wrong. I guess what angers me … is the [areas] remaining are all in District 1, by your house, Denny,” Thompson said to Shortal.

“We live in the same city. You’re the mayor of the whole city. I’m not going to participate in this,” he added.

County garbage trucks begin their routes at 5:30 a.m. and target major business areas first to try to be out of the areas before customers begin filling up parking lots.

One area Shortal wanted excluded from having garbage pickup before 8 a.m. was the Dunwoody Park area on Roberts Drive and next to his home on Wyntercreek Lane. Other areas suggested to be excluded from garbage pickup before 8 a.m., besides Dunwoody Park, were commercial areas in Dunwoody Village and two more near Perimeter Center Place.

Assistant City Manager Jessica Guinn said these were areas where the county could pick up trash on later schedules at no cost to the city, but if more areas were to be delayed, the county would charge the city.

Guinn also said she’s only received complaints from one person, a resident at the Manhattan high-rise apartments on Olde Perimeter Way adjacent to the Target shopping center. She said she heard of other complaints from other areas in the city from the mayor and other councilmembers.

City and county officials met twice before the meeting to come up with a plan. Councilmember John Heneghan said he appreciated the county’s willingness to work with the city on reasonable pickup times, but codifying it into a legal agreement was “improper.”

“I’m not happy with the exclusionary concept,” Heneghan said.

Shortal denied his idea was exclusionary.

“This is the first bite at the apple … and we’ve made inroads at DeKalb,” Shortal said. “This is not trying to be exclusionary. [These] are the places where we’ve had complaints.”

Shortal said next year the city could ask more residents where they would want garbage pickup at later times.

Councilmember Lynn Deutsch also disagreed with Shortal’s proposal. Deutsch said the fairest way to deal with garbage complaints was to handle them on an individual basis.

“This is the problem – businesses like their garbage picked up earlier. We’re a residential community that relies on our commercial tax base,” she said. “I worry about the message we are sending. Our businesses are part of the fabric of our community. We coexist.”

Dyana Bagby is a staff writer for Reporter Newspapers and Atlanta Intown.

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