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September 21, 2014

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WEEK IN REVIEW: CLARK COUNTY:

Picking up where recycling story left off

We’re doing some house cleaning this week, with some updates on recycling and massage parlor regulations. Plus a message from Clark County Commissioner Bruce Woodbury.

Where do things stand with the county’s recycling plan?

You’ll recall that the commissioners approved a controversial curb-side recycling test program last year in August. Well, that plan has hit a small snag.

What exactly was the plan? I forget.

A few neighborhoods would volunteer to test three new recycling pick-up schedules. They would be given a single large can for all recyclables, rather than the current system under which recyclables must be sorted into three different bins.

As for the pick-up schedules, one group of neighborhoods would continue to have its recyclables picked up every other week, as is the case now. A second group would have recyclables picked up weekly. A third group — and this is where the controversy comes in — would have recyclables picked up weekly, but also would have regular trash picked up once a week instead of twice a week, as happens now.

Many residents fear the test program will result in the third option being implemented across the entire unincorporated county, resulting in a windfall for garbage company Republic Services because of a reduction in the total number of pick-ups, from five to four during a two-week period.

Then, of course, there also are concerns about stinking garbage.

County officials say they simply want to boost the county’s dismal recycling rate, and the test runs will allow them to monitor each option for cost and effectiveness.

So why haven’t the test runs started?

Although the county approved the program seven months ago, it depends on neighborhoods volunteering to be recycling guinea pigs. But most homeowner associations meet only once a month, and Republic Services has had trouble scheduling presentations about the program, county and Republic officials say. The county now hopes the pilots are up and running by late spring.

What about recycling at apartments?

The county is trying to make that easier. Commissioners signed off on a change to the county’s land-use law earlier this year that allows apartment property managers to reduce the number of parking spaces at their complexes if they put a recycling trash container in their place.

Property manager Brenda Lovato, who is on the county’s recycling advisory group, said she plans to place Dumpsters at three of her properties: Royal Palms, Rancho del Sol and Rancho Mirage. Those Dumpsters will be monitored to see how much is actually recycled and whether tenants keep regular trash out of the recycling containers, Lovato said. The results will be used to encourage other property managers to try the same thing, she said.

What’s the latest on massage parlors? Weren’t commissioners supposed to vote last week to restrict their hours?

Yes. Driven in part by concerns about late-night sexual activity at some parlors, the county was considering limiting operating hours for new massage parlors to

8 a.m. to 9 p.m. But a vote on that was delayed Wednesday.

The proposal had originally applied only to stand-alone massage businesses, not those inside resorts and casinos.

Allen Lichtenstein, an attorney representing several small massage parlors, said that raised questions about whether the county was treating everyone equally.

The new version that commissioners were supposed to consider Wednesday changed the proposal to include massage businesses inside resorts and casinos.

Gaming and hotel companies just found out about the change to the proposal and had some concerns, Lichtenstein said.

County spokesman Dan Kulin said an impact statement is still being prepared and that the county wanted more time to explain the proposed changes to affected businesses.

You said something about Woodbury? Isn’t he running for reelection this year?

He is. Woodbury has been on the commission since 1981 and is seeking another term. Because Woodbury has been on the commission so long, some political observers have wondered whether he might win his seat and then step down so that a fellow Republican can be appointed. Such a move would give the appointee the advantage of incumbency when facing voters for the first time.

Woodbury said he’s heard the rumors, but they aren’t true.

“I intend to serve,” he said. “I’ve never had any conversations with anybody about that at all. It would be wrong for me to run if I intended to do that without telling people.”

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