A divided Windsor Town Council has awarded the town’s garbage collection contract to a new company despite complaints from other bidders that the process was unfair and likely to be challenged in court.
On a 3-2 vote late Wednesday, the council assigned the hauling contract for the next 10 years to Green Waste Recovery Inc., with a majority of the council citing the lower rates and environmental practices of the San-Jose based company.
Mayor Debora Fudge said the council shouldn’t “cave in” to the threat of a lawsuit from critics or “we’re playing right into their hands.”
But council members who dissented raised concerns over Green Waste’s plans for a proposed transfer station in Petaluma for recycled materials that is not yet permitted.
A Green Waste representative assured the council the company is confident of being able to get the necessary permits by Sept. 30 — when the current garbage contract expires — to turn a church property at 879 and 901 Lindberg Ave., Petaluma, into a facility for transferring containers with recyclable materials on to bigger trucks for a longer haul to San Jose.
“The issue in Petaluma bothers me,” said Councilman Bruce Okrepkie, who said he was concerned with the permitting process, not the threat of legal action.
Councilman Dominic Foppoli said he was bothered that Green Waste withdrew partway through the life of its hauling contract with Petaluma, despite the positive comments Wednesday from Petaluma Mayor David Glass who said Green Waste was “first class” and delivered “really good service.”
But a majority of the council chose Green Waste, citing lower rates, educational outreach to customers, as well as its low carbon footprint, including a plant near Gilroy that extracts energy from food waste to power its processing operations.
Windsor’s bidding is being closely watched by Santa Rosa because many of the same players and issues have been involved in both municipalities’ searches for a new hauler.
The Ratto Group, the same company that holds Windsor’s expiring contract, also has a contract with Santa Rosa that runs out at the end of the year.
Santa Rosa narrowed the field of bidders down to two finalists: Green Waste, and Waste Management, the nation’s largest garbage firm.
Rattling a legal saber at Windsor’s meeting on Wednesday was an environmental law firm that is demanding a full environmental review of the various proposals the town has received for its garbage contract.
Attorney Richard Drury, representing Petaluma River Council and Community Science Institute, said there are homes within 600 feet of the Lindberg Avenue facility, and there will be odors and other impacts that need more study.
The Lindberg property is south of Target and the East Washington Place shopping center.
It would serve as a recycling transfer station, with material directly transferred from one covered vehicle to another, to be taken to San Jose for sorting. Garbage would be taken to the county landfill west of Cotati.
Drury raised similar objections last month to a transfer facility Green Waste was contemplating building on an industrial parcel on West Robles Avenue in Santa Rosa.
Green Waste subsequently announced it was dropping its option to buy that site and instead was settling on Petaluma.
Windsor town attorneys say awarding the contract to any of the five competitors does not have sufficient impact to warrant full-blown environmental review.