M’boro Council approves grease ordinance

Published 12:29 pm Thursday, October 29, 2009

MURFREESBORO — Some business owners here may be looking at an added expense.

On Tuesday, the Murfreesboro Town Council adopted a state and federally mandated Fats, Oils and Grease Ordinance that requires local businesses with a kitchen to install a grease trap or interceptor. An estimated cost for the interceptor could be anywhere from $2,000-$5,000.

Public Works Department Superintendent Ben Warren brought the ordinance before council members for their decision.

“Twenty-seven percent of sewer back-ups are from oil,” he said.

The ordinance will prevent fats, oils and greases from industrial, commercial and institutional establishments, particularly food preparation and serving facilities, from entering the town’s sewer system, accumulating and creating blockages.

The ordinance is required by the state for the town’s water collections permit and, further, required by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a federal government agency.

Warren said there are two types of interceptors, one that is placed below the sink and another that is designed like a septic tank. The cost for either trap was estimated to be anywhere from $2,000-$5,000.

According to the ordinance, the owner would be responsible for the installation and maintenance of the interceptor, which cannot be less than 1,000 gallon in total capacity.

Mayor Pro-tem Molly Eubank asked if restaurant owners had been notified.

Warren said they have not been officially notified. He added the state recommends the business owners be given six months to comply with the ordinance.

Councilwoman Gloria Odum questioned how soon the business owners would be notified.

Warren said within 30-60 days.

Town Administrator Cathy Davison said another part of the state requirement is that the town would need to educate residents about not disposing of grease down drains.

Council members noted how businesses were struggling with the economy.

“We need notify everybody before the fact,” said Councilman Bill Thedorakis. “It’s going to be a shock for some.”

Warren reiterated that the ordinance is one of the several items the town needs to have in place.

“It’s something the state says we have to do,” he said.

He added the town could face an initial $25,000 penalty with $10,000 each day after the ordinance is not in place.

Town Attorney Buddy Jones said Ahoskie has passed the same ordinance as well as municipalities across the state.

Davison said the town could notify the business owners personally as well as by letter.

Councilwoman Sarah Wallace motioned to adopt the ordinance; it was seconded by Odum. The motion passed without objection.