Community News Big Belly 2+

Published on June 9th, 2016 |

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BCID again reviews sidewalk high-tech trash receptacles with ad panels

Six months after being dumped by the Buckhead Community Improvement District board, BigBelly trash talk resurfaced at the organization’s June 1 meeting, with much of the same reaction:  members were worried ads on the high-tech trash receptacles would create driving distractions and visual clutter.

Photo shows the new style Big Belly Solar compacting trash cans being installed around the UNT Denton campus that include two sections – a trash can section and recycling section. The cans will send information to UNT Facilities on how much trash UNT generates, as well as how much recycling material is generated.

Photo shows the new style Big Belly Solar compacting trash cans being installed around the UNT Denton campus that include two sections – a trash can section and recycling section. The cans will send information to UNT Facilities on how much trash UNT generates, as well as how much recycling material is generated.

During its Jan. 6 board meeting, some members of the Buckhead CID’s board indicated little interest in BigBellies because they offer receptacle-side advertising, which is how the company pays for the system. Some of that sentiment carried over to the June 1 meeting.

“This sounds like a whole workaround on the billboard thing,” said board member Robin Suggs, who represents Simon Properties’ Lenox Square and Phipps Plaza on the CID.

But Cousins Properties’ representative Thad Ellis said, “I’ve moved 180 degrees” and sees advantages to the BigBelly system of solar-powered, wifi-connected trash collection boxes that soon could be placed in 40 very visible Buckhead locations.

“When we first talked about this, I envisioned Dumpsters. But it’s tasteful. They’ve won me over. It’s professionally done,” Ellis told his fellow BCID board members June 1.

The BigBelly smart waste and recycling system, manufactured by a Massachusetts-based company, now operates in 47 countries.

BigBellies’ supporters say the units compact trash, avoiding spillovers and keeping rodents at bay, and then, once the units are full, they text message trash collectors that it’s time for a pickup.

City officials say they have met with representatives of the Community Improvement Districts in Buckhead, Midtown and Downtown Atlanta and are negotiating to spread the BigBellies along Peachtree in the area contained within the CIDs.

The BigBelly high-tech trash eaters hold five times the amount of litter as a traditional trash can, thanks to a built-in trash compactor.

Map shows city's proposed Buckhead locations for placing BigBelly trash receptacles

Map shows city’s proposed Buckhead locations for placing BigBelly trash receptacles

Apparently, the city’s Public Works leaders have been seriously looking into placing as many as 80 in Buckhead—along Peachtree Road in the Village area and the central commercial core, and in the two Special Public Interest districts (SPI-9 and SPI-12) that are largely controlled by the Buckhead Community Improvement District.

The reason: the cans cut down on the number of trash pick-up trips by the city, which can save operating costs. Likely more important, they are big enough to display major advertising messages, which could generate additional revenue for the city.

The problems as discussed at the Jan. 6 meeting are: (1) there have been no guaranteed controls over what advertising is sold to goes on the BigBelly receptacles and (2) they are not allowed under the streetscape guidelines established for SPI-9 and SPI-12.

Denise Starling, executive director of Livable Buckhead, said in discussion with her SPI-12 Development Review Committee meeting in January, “The public spent at least a year in each case developing the SPI-9 and SPI-12 guidelines for the streetscapes in Buckhead and those don’t allow what amounts to billboards attached to trash and recycling receptacles along the sidewalks.”

It also was pointed out during the CID’s January meeting that the CID has spent tens of millions of dollars and a decade and a half carefully improving Buckhead’s streetscapes for a better

This map shows the city's proposed sites for BigBelly receptacles in Midtown (red) and Downtown (yellow) Atlanta.

This map shows the city’s proposed sites for BigBelly receptacles in Midtown (red) and Downtown (yellow) Atlanta.

environment.

CID board member Scott Selig, who brought the matter to the board’s attention at the Jan. 6 meeting, said, “Think of the tens of millions of dollars we have spent on the aesthetics of the area.”  He suggested this could wipe out all that good work and the value of the money spent.

An Atlanta city Planning Department staffer, who works with the SPI-12 DRC, told the committee members Jan. 6, “Once ads are on it, it will not meet the sign ordinance requirements.” He added that the receptacles “are not allowed on the sidewalks or the in the clear zones,” according to SPI-9 and SPI-12 regulations.

Apparently Public Works Department saw a new potential revenue source as well as a way to reduce overhead by reducing the number of trash pickups. However, the city does not collect the trash from street side receptacles in Buckhead within the non-residential BCID boundaries. The BCID pays $48,000 a year to have a private vendor collect the trash within the BCID boundaries.

BCID board member John Barton may have summed up the Buckhead organization’s sentiments when he told Durrett, “Tell them we appreciate the

This photo shows the new style Big Belly containers on a park area in Boston.

This photo shows the new style Big Belly containers on a park area in Boston.

city trying to find ways to generate more revenues (through advertising on trash receptacles), but this one is not acceptable.”

In January, the BCID board told its Executive Director Jim Durrett to send the message back to the city’s Department of Public Works that this is a bad idea and not acceptable to the Buckhead CID.

But apparently the city did not fully understand the meaning of Durrett’s message and the BigBelly trash talk resurfaced.  The Buckhead CID board is expected to consider in July whether to approve BigBellies.

(To read BuckheadView’s January story about the BigBelly discussion, click here.)

 

 

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