A judge last week ruled for the city of Bloomington in a lawsuit filed by a group opposed to the organized trash collection system the city adopted in October.
Hennepin County District Judge Daniel Moreno ruled that Bloomington had followed procedures set by the Minnesota Waste Management Act in adopting the trash collection program, and that the law pre-empted the group’s efforts to put the issue on the ballot.
The district court ruling called the concerns of the group, Hands Off Our Cans, “primarily economic in nature” and said that it had disregarded “physical, social, environmental, and aesthetic considerations.”
“Most problematically, it could lead to a town’s residents overriding a decision made to benefit the environment and public health ... for their own personal reasons,” Moreno wrote.
Joel Jennissen, a plaintiff and member of Hands Off Our Cans, said he was disappointed by the ruling.
“We were all kind of left scratching our heads,” said Jennissen, who added that the group is considering appealing the decision.
Hands Off Our Cans has tried several methods in the past two years to prevent the city from switching to an organized system from the contractual arrangements each homeowner had to make for trash pickup.
The group sued the city in 2015 after the city attorney rejected its petition to put the program to a vote. The judge dismissed the complaint and said the city charter could be amended through a different petition, but the City Council said the petition was “manifestly unconstitutional.”
Jennissen did not want to say how much money Hands Off Our Cans has spent suing the city. “Lawsuits aren’t insignificant, I’ll just leave it at that,” he said.
Bloomington Mayor Gene Winstead said the city was careful to follow the Waste Management Act in adopting the system.
The new program drew a backlash from residents who said trucks had missed homes or entire blocks. “There have definitely been some issues, most of them related to the performance of a couple of the individual haulers,” Winstead said.