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Residential incinerators outlawed after June 28.

Under Local Law 39, garbage incinerators in New York City residential buildings must be removed or sealed by June 28 or owners will face fines up to $2,000.

Most owners and co-op and condominium boards are replacing these incinerators with compactors while at the same time keeping one eye on recycling and what is ultimately going down the chute.

The Department of Sanitation (DOS) does not require the installation of a compactor except for those buildings who are required to have one under more recent building codes.

The DOS must be notified in writing, however, prior to a shut-down of the incinerator so they can survey and determine the new volume of garbage pick-ups and make schedules accordingly. "We need to know if we have the right capacity trucks," explained spokesperson Ann Canty.

Although the DOS allows owners to shut down the incinerator and not installl a compactor, the size of the building and the amount of garbage may not make that practical for larger buildings.

Owners groups warn the building owner or co-op that has rent-regulated tenants may receive service complaints and face rent overcharges as well if the convenience of the chute is eliminated.

With just three and one-half months left until the deadline, a compactor installer urged owners not to wait until the last minute since the permit and inspection process can easily take that much time, even if the actual work takes only a week or two.

A 1966 survey identified more than 15,000 incinerators in New York City, said Patrick Downes, deputy director of enforcement for the Bureau of Air Resources. Today, merely 350 remain but most of those are required to shut down. He did not believe any were still working in small buildings. Incinerators that serve hospital waste disposal and other exceptions, however, may continue to operate.

Richard Blaser, president of Atlas Compacting, said you could see the handwriting on the wall, since a recent move to annual inspections meant more costs associated with the inspection, fines and repairs. "We've been doing compactors for 20 years because there has always been a need for this but the city finally said, 'this is it,'" he added.

The owners of apartment buildings with 21 to 42 units have always been able to apply for a waiver with DOS, particularly if there was no room for a compactor.

In the past, noted, Dan Margulies, executive director of the Community Housing Improvement Program, that law has always been understood to mean that when you remove the incinerator from a building of 42 units or more it needed to be replaced with a compactor, while buildings with 21 to 42 units could apply for the waiver.

"Owners now facing the deadline and who are required to shut down the incinerator will not automatically be required to install a compactor," Margulies said.

He is awaiting a ruling in writing, he added, although Sanitations spokesperson Canty confirmed the policy.

For cooperative buildings that are fully owner-occupied, there is the possibility of not replacing the incinerator, carrying the garbage down and avoiding the cost of the compactor.

"There are not that many [co-op] buildings that are 100 percent owner-occupied," warned Charles Rappaport, president of the Federation of New York Housing Cooperatives. "Even if the sponsor retains one apartment that one person will file a complaint."

Rappaport cited storage and vermin problems as further reasons to install a compactor. "It's not practical or probable [to go without one] and would start to cause more problems," he added.

Downes said, "The law says they have to shut down and seal the incinerator. It will be an important issue at the closing date and we will be surveying in an aggressive fashion. It will have a priority."

Owners were notified at the time of the annual incinerator inspection and notice was again sent to those buildings that still contain incineratos, Downes added.

Buildings continuing to operate incineators after June 28 will face fines ranging from $400 to $2,000 from the Environmental Control Board. For a building opeating a residential incinerator with great areas of 25 square feet or less there would be a $400 minimum fine, while a $1,600 fine would be levied for operating this size unit without a certificate of operation.

"They have to shut them down and then transform them into compactors," agreed John J. Gilbert III, president of the Rent Stabilization Association. "They don't have too many options."

Gilbert explained that once the incinerators are shut, aside from the cost of the compactors, owners still have to deal with the issue of recycling.

"Getting the garbage out to the curb is nothing to take lightly," he warned. "Owners have to understand their rights and responsibilities and understand the rules and do it property."

Garbage and non-recylcables would be thrown down the chute to the compactor but recyclables would have to be collected separately, depending on the building's arrangements.

Rappaport agreed if a building does not put in a compactor there may be less pure garbage and they would still have to separate recyclables.

"This goes back to the education of the tenants." Gilbert observed. "There are those that are civic minded and willing to cooperate. The tenants are the key to success in any one building."

Blaser said Atlas removes or in some cases seals the incinerators and removes associated equipment. For most buildings, a compactor is installed in place of the incinerator, directly under the garbage chute. "When garbage does down in breaks an electric eye and compacts the garbage right into a plastic bay," he said.

The garbage can also fall directly into a metal container, which Blaser said is expensive, needs a ramp or elevator to bring it to the street and can only be used where the city allows their collection. "The sanitation trucks beat them up and they need repairs because the wheels fall off," he added. "But if they are in a container area, and it works for their buildings and they want it, they we do it."

Sanitation may need to be notified, as well, to ensure pickups are properly scheduled.

In smaller buildings where there is no chute and the staff goes around and collects garbage, then Blaser suggested the incinerator can simply be sealed and the compacto installed next to it. "The incinerator has to be discontinued but you don't have to take it out," he said. This reduces the cost since the incineratos are made of bricks and there is a great deal of debris.

After removing or sealing the incinerator, a filing of a discontinuance of use must be made with the Bureau of Air Resources.

The Building Depatment also needs to be notified that a compactor is going to be installed in a legal refuse room with sprinklers, a floor drain, hose bib, a fire rating of three hours, and proper electrical and plumbing work. A building inspection is also necessary. "You have to file a Building Notice and they everybody wants to come in and see what you are doing," Blaser said.

For a building in the 100-unit range, the work would cost in the $8,000 to $10,000 range, Blaser said. These installations can be more expensive if there are two chutes or for a larger building that might need a larger capacity compactor and has a larger incinerator to remove.

"There are not that many [co-op] buildings that are 100 percent owner-occupied," warned Charles Rappaport, president of the Federation of New York Housing Cooperatives. "Even if the sponsor retains one apartment, that one person will file a complaint."
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Title Annotation:New York, New York law to take effect June 28, 1993
Author:Weiss, Lois
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Mar 17, 1993
Words:1268
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