Carson City's grease trap exemption could save some small businesses

By Dave Frank

Appeal Staff Writer

Ed and Roberta Rosario didn't think about the cost of a new grease trap when they bought City Cafe Bakery.

They used almost no grease to make their baked goods. They kept the same menu as the former owner.

Then an estimate for the South Carson Street business' grease trap came in this month: $50,000 - half of what they had paid to open the store.

"They (the city) were saying we would need one as big as a small car," Roberta said.

Roberta and her husband thought they might have to close the store, but the city recently changed its policy in response to questions from the Carson City Chamber of Commerce and businesses such as City Cafe Bakery.

New owners, if they don't add equipment or do a major remodel, don't have to add a new grease trap.

Until last week, the city had required the owners of new restaurants to put in up-to-date grease traps, even if they don't change the menu or create more grease.

The state and the city have required grease traps for restaurants since the 1980s because of the effect of grease on sewer lines.

Grease, said Darren Selby, city public works environmental manager, can damage or clog sewer lines, even forcing raw sewage to spring out of manholes.

The grease trap separates a lot of the grease out into a container that can later be removed. The size of the grease trap depends on how much grease the business will use.

What makes the grease traps expensive for small businesses, said Ken Arnold, department operations manager, is the installation cost, which includes rerouting the plumbing.

But new owners who make little or no changes to restaurants shouldn't have to pay thousands of dollars to help protect city equipment they will not hurt, businesses owners and the chamber of commerce said.

"It just didn't make sense," said Ronni Hannaman, chamber director.

City Cafe Bakery, 701 S. Carson St., would have had to close or move if a new grease trap were required, Roberta said. She and her husband complained about it, however, because the rule "just didn't feel right."

The public works department, which regulates the grease traps, is working on writing a new ordinance including the recent exemption, Arnold said.

Several business owners will be excited to hear about the change, Roberta said, but it's almost too good to be true.

"I want to see it in writing," she said.

• Contact reporter Dave Frank at or 881-1212.


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