Southampton Town Hall in an undated photo.

Southampton Town Hall in an undated photo. Credit: Erin Geismar

Southampton officials have abandoned a proposal to provide the town's first municipal garbage pickup in Flanders, Riverside and Northampton, following an outcry from residents.

Town Councilman Brad Bender said in a news release Tuesday that residents made clear they did not support the taxpayer-funded garbage district, and the town board withdrew the proposal in a 5-0 vote at a meeting Tuesday.

"Unfortunately, the public sentiment is against the formation of a garbage district at this time," he said.

Southampton officials since March had explored starting municipal garbage pickup in the three hamlets, a largely working- and middle-class corner of the Hamptons with about 8,000 residents. Civic leaders had complained of illegal dumping in the woods and trash piling up outside some homes where residents or landlords had not hired carting companies.

But in recent weeks, 237 residents joined a Facebook page opposing the idea, saying they liked the freedom to arrange their own garbage pickup, as is common across large parts of the East End. More than 100 residents converged at a May 15 meeting about the proposal at Phillips Avenue Elementary School in Flanders, where a majority expressed disapproval by a show of hands, attendees said.

"I'm thrilled," Meigan Rocco, a Flanders resident who started the page in March, said Tuesday. "Absolutely thrilled that we were successful. I think that there was just a lack of communication between the town and our community as a whole."

Bender had said the town could hire a contractor to provide twice-weekly trash pickup and weekly recyclable and bulk-item pickup for about $25 a month. Some residents said they feared the fee, which would added to residents' tax bills, would rise over time.

"I still believe that providing this service to the Flanders, Riverside and Northampton areas is a great idea -- one that would go a long way to improving both property values and pride of place," Bender, who lives in Northampton, said Tuesday. "Perhaps it is an idea whose time has not yet come, but one which bears revisiting in the future."Rocco said the debate improved communication between residents at large and the civic group that conceived the garbage district, the Flanders, Riverside & Northampton Community Association. She said it also helped organize neighbors around other issues, such as high school taxes residents of the three hamlets pay to the Riverhead School District.

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