Update: On Wednesday, Jan. 9, Odd Job announced on their Facebook page that they will be suspending recycling at the current time and will start alternating weeks for recycling starting in February. To contact Odd Job please call 248-628-7447.
By Jim Newell
It was rotten work, but the Orion Township Board of Trustees had to do it.
Odd Job Disposal is still in business in Orion Township, after the township board voted 7-0 on Monday to give the garbage hauling company one more chance to clean up its service and remove Orion residents’ trash.
The board held a hearing to consider revoking Odd Job’s license to operate in the township, with Odd Job co-owner Aaron Walter representing the garbage company.
“We need answers. If you’re the person authorized to speak on behalf of the company this is your chance,” said township Supervisor Chris Barnett. “This is a public health, safety and welfare issue.”
For months, residents have complained that their trash and compost have not been picked up when it’s supposed to, sometimes sitting out on the curb for days or weeks at a time. They also have said that when they try to contact Odd Job, no one answers phone calls or emails or gets back to them.
That’s when unsatisfied customers began contacting Orion Township officials, complaining about the lack of service – many had prepaid for a year’s worth of garbage pickup – and mess in their neighborhoods.
“The reason we’re here tonight is that we have literally been inundated with calls,” said Barnett, adding that the township has called Odd Job several times and never got a return phone call.
Odd Job Disposal, Inc., based in Oxford Township, was officially established in January 2007 by Tom Christensen and Aaron Walter as the founding partners, according to the company’s website.
Barnett also pointed out that Clerk Penny Shults sent letters by certified mail, dated Dec. 14 and Dec. 20, informing Odd Job that under township Ordinance 73, Solid Waste & Recyclable Materials Collection Regulation, the township could refuse to grant a garbage hauler’s application “for any just cause, or when in its judgment, the public health, safety and welfare of the inhabitants of the Township so require.”
The Dec. 20 letter informed Odd Job that the township had scheduled the hearing to consider revoking the company’s license for several ordinance violations:
• Late trash pick-up or missed pick-ups,
• Recyclable trash not picked up per schedule,
• Mixing recyclables with regular trash,
• Yard waste not picked up, per schedule,
• Mixing yard waste and regular waste trash.
“A lot of things can go wrong with a business,” Walter said, adding that in April a transformer blew at the business and knocked out the phones for a while; a disgruntled employee parked his truck for an entire day another time; and that the company had grown too fast to handle the volume of customers.
“I’ve never been out to rob anyone of anything,” Walter said. “All I can say is, we’re trying. We’re not sitting at home doing nothing.”
While the board did not revoke Odd Job’s license, it did give Walter a Feb. 25 deadline to meet several criteria in order to keep its license to operate in the township.
• The township wants to know how many customers Odd Job has in Orion Township? Walter estimated that Odd Job has 6,000 customers in the township but couldn’t give an exact number. Part of the problem, Walters said, is that “We got too big, too fast.”
• Odd Job needs to develop a strategy for conveying information to customers when the company is going to be late picking up trash and compost.
• Odd Job needs to pick up trash, recycling and yard waste when scheduled.
• There needs to be a “specific point person” who the township and residents can call if there is a problem and get answers.
“I can tell you, it’s not going to go this way next time,” Barnett said.
March 15 is the deadline for the township to approve garbage haulers’ licenses to operate in Orion Township.
Barnett also asked for some guarantee for residents who had prepaid for a year’s service would be refunded if they cancel their service with Odd Job and wants a written policy given to the township to put on record.
Walter said people would get a refund check but would have to contact or go to the Odd Job office to do so.
“I’m more than willing to give you the benefit of the doubt for the next (60 days) to get your act together,” Trustee Mike Flood said. “This is a failure to communicate. There’s nothing more frustrating today than when you can’t get ahold of (someone).”
“I’m glad that we’re considering giving you that (60 days). We’re all rooting for you, we want you to do well. But it is a health, safety and welfare issue,” Shults said.
Barnett said the entire situation could have been avoided if Odd Job had communicated with the township and estimated the cost to the township to be “$5,000, easily” in the amount of time township employees have spent trying to contact Odd Job, answering complaints from residents and the code enforcement officer investigating to see if garbage was still on the streets.
There are currently four garbage companies operating in Orion Township: Odd Job, Advanced Disposal, Waste Management and Green for Life Environmental, according to a township document distributed at the meeting.
“Do you realize that you’re in jeopardy to pick up garbage in the township? You are at a crisis point and this is the group that’s going to make a decision…Frankly, you’re not giving us anything, you’re not helping yourself out. Honestly, I’m trying to help, but you’re not giving us anything,” Barnett said. “We’re trying to be kind here, but there was no evidence presented (on Odd Job’s behalf).”
Dozens of people attended the standing-room only license revocation hearing, with many saying that while they were frustrated with the deteriorating service, they would remain loyal to Odd Job and urged township officials to help out the family-owned company and give it another chance.
After the decision, Walter said he would work on improving Odd Job’s service and get the township the information it requested.
“I feel that went a lot better than expected. When I walked in, I thought we were done,” Walter said. “The overwhelming support of the community really helped. We’re going to try to persevere.”
Most of the people who spoke during public comment on the issue acknowledged that service has suffered lately, but they supported Odd Job as a local business and wanted the township to grant a grace period.
James Goebel said an Odd Job’s been “very cooperative” during the six years he’s been a customer. “You’ve got to at least give them a probationary period,” he told the board.
“You’ve been great for several years, but this year you just got turned upside down,” said Bill McGuckin, who’s been an Odd Job customer “since the beginning.”
Jim Leinbach said Walter is a small business owner who is just trying to keep his local company running. “This is the American Dream here,” Leinbach said, accusing the board of tricking Walter by having their attorney question him. He also accused the board of berating Walters and said the entire hearing was “unfair.”
Jay McClain, a Keating subdivision resident, said he is not an Odd Job customer but is unhappy that his neighbors’ garbage continues to litter the streets because it isn’t picked up. “There are other people being impacted, not just Odd Job customers,” he said.
“He did get too big, too fast, everybody knows that,” said Martin Russell, who has known Walter “for a long time” and said Walter “hasn’t seen his wife and kids since Christmas. Russell urged the board to give Walter more time.