LARGO — City commissioners seem to have struck a happy balance with local business owners after months of dealing with complaints about the city grease trap ordinance.
The current city ordinance requires restaurants to have a grease trap sometimes 20 times larger than the state requires. But the measure commissioners unanimously approved Tuesday night reduces the requirement for existing businesses until the city can officially amend its code at a meeting scheduled for March 8.
For many, that means a reduction from a 750-gallon trap to as little as 50 gallons. The outsized requirement was meant to protect the city sewer system from grease clogs.
Business owners present at the meeting applauded the action.
Henry Webber, who owns the Jimmy John's sandwich shop franchise at 2325 Ulmerton Road, said he was amazed that when he was about to open in November, he learned his 50-gallon grease trap — the same unit all 1,100 franchises install nationwide — was not in compliance with city code.
"We found this out two weeks prior to our opening," Webber told commissioners during discussion at the meeting. "Our retrofit cost would be nearly $15,000 to put this in."
However, Webber added: "We believe what's being proposed tonight is a reasonable solution to a very important problem."
"I think it's something we need, and it will certainly help our business people who are in the food business," said Commissioner Mary Gray Black of the measure.
Dominick Tao can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 580-2951.