City gets business input on scrap tires

Published 10:08 am Friday, May 4, 2012

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The Bainbridge City Council voted to table a proposed ordinance dealing with storage of scrap tires to allow local tire dealers’ concerns to be addressed.

At its Tuesday meeting, the City Council heard from three local tire dealers who took issue with the first draft of the ordinance, which aims to cut down on the size of scrap tire piles around the city.

Currently, Georgia law allows certain types of businesses such as tire retailers and tire retreaders to store up to 3,000 tires on site at any given time.

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City Manager Chris Hobby previously said old tires collect standing rain water, which provides mosquitoes with an ideal place to lay their eggs and reproduce. Bainbridge has to begin spraying for mosquitoes in April and continue through the fall, according to Hobby. According to Public Safety Director Eric Miller, if a large pile of scrap tires stored up against a building were to catch fire, the resulting flames would quickly threaten the building.

The City of Bainbridge’s proposed ordinance would be stricter than Georgia law and limit retailers and retreaders to storing a maximum of 1,500 scrap tires. Auto salvage yards would be allowed to store up to 500 scrap tires. In the first draft, the city’s ordinance would have allowed individuals to keep up to 20 tires on their property but the revised version cuts that to just four.

The ordinances also states that “scrap tires stored on non-residential property shall be stored in a covered shipping container, situated at least 50 feet from the nearest building, so as to provide adequate fire protection.”

Scrap tire piles could also be no larger than 50 feet wide or 15 feet tall and a 50-foot-wide fire lane would have to be placed around each pile.

Businessman Billy Gray said he believed mosquitoes would be a problem no matter where tires were stored. But the bigger issue to Gray and fellow businessmen Larry Wilkinson and David Powell was the ordinance’s requirement that all tires be stored in a trailer.

All three men said they believed it would be prohibitively expensive for them to purchase trailers for their businesses.

“Purchasing a trailer would wipe out a year’s worth of profits for me,” said Powell, who said his business only keeps about 20-75 tires at one time and stores them indoors to await pickup.

The revised ordinance now states, “When adequate covered space is available for the storage of scrap tires, no covered shipping container shall be required.”

The revision also requires scrap tired collectors to charge a disposal fee up to the maximum amount permitted by state law, regardless of customers’ chosen method of disposal. That language addressed a concern of Gray’s who said state law allows collectors the option of collecting a fee or allowing the customer to keep a used tire taken off their vehicle. Gray’s concern was that to recoup the cost of buying a trailer, he might have to raise the disposal fee he currently charges, which might lead to “more and more tires getting stuck on the side of the road.”

Gray also addressed the fire danger that tires present. He recalled that his business was destroyed by fire at its original location in 1986.

“That fire involved new tires—tire fires of any kind are tremendous,” Gray said. “But whether you keep the tires inside or outside shouldn’t determine whether or not you have to buy a trailer.”

Gray said that while his tires are stored outside, he believes scrap tires should ideally be kept behind a fence and all three dealers agreed it was important for scrap tires to be picked up on a monthly basis, if not more frequently.

The revised ordinance attempts to make a compromise with certain tire dealers who have limited space on which to store tires.

“When the size or dimensions of a lot prohibit the adequate setback from an existing building (used as a tire retailer or storage facility on the date of this ordinance), the Director of Public Safety shall be authorized to grant a variance related to the required 50-foot setback. This variance shall only be granted after an on-site inspection has been conducted.”

The City Council will hold another public hearing on the proposed scrap tire ordinance at its May 15 meeting, before taking a final vote on its adoption.