Lafayette residents began trundling the new 96-gallon “smart cart” trash containers to the roadside today for automated trash pick-up. But not every Lafayette resident is participating in the program. River Ranch negotiated a separate contract with Allied Waste to keep the trucks and their whirring robotic arms out of the traditional neighborhood development. Residents in the exclusive south Lafayette neighborhood pay an extra $7.50 per month directly to Allied to maintain the status quo, which entails residents placing bags of garbage out for pickup. No trash cans in River Ranch. Residents do, however, still pay the regular $19.52 monthly charge to Lafayette Consolidated Government for trash service, bringing their total monthly tab to $27.02.

“Most people didn’t want to fight those big carts, that was the main thing,” explains John Vinet, a spokesman for the River Ranch Homeowners’ Association. “In some areas there are essentially row homes where they have no alleys to get it to the front. They were looking at dragging it through the house. We have a lot of older folks here; they just couldn’t maneuver it. So that’s why I think most folks were thrilled. They’d rather pay a little bit more and just keep things the way they are.”

What many in Lafayette who didn’t want once-per-week automated pickup may not have realized is that neighborhoods can negotiate separate deals with the vendor contracted by LCG for trash service, in this case Allied. Le Triomphe in Broussard has been using the automated service with 96-gallon carts for at least six years as part of a separately negotiated contract. But for an area like the Saint Streets, which has the feel and certainly the character of a neighborhood without any apparent homeowners’ association, negotiating a separate contract with Allied is next to impossible because there is no representation.

City-Parish President Joey Durel, who defended the move to smart carts earlier this month in an e-mail exchange obtained by the INDsider, points out that street-side parking in River Ranch makes the use of the carts impractical. Vinet says he’s only gotten two complaints on River Ranch’s separate deal. “One lady really wanted the big carts; one lady was happy not to have the cart but didn’t like that she was paying more,” Vinet says. “Everybody else is thrilled.”

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