Federal regulations threaten small, locally owned restaurants - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Federal regulations threaten small, locally owned restaurants

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Jordan Miller owns Dub's Place, a small hamburger and ice cream shop in Red Bank. It's been there since 1952. Miller has owned it the past two years and says business was great until recently.

"The WWTA, all of a sudden has flexed their muscles," Miller says. "Its putting small business out of business."

The WWTA, also known as the Wastewater Treatment Authority in Hamilton County, is requiring Miller to install a one thousand gallon grease trap as a part of the federal EPA's Clean Water Act and the Fat, Oil and Grease Program which aims to stop grease from getting in the sewer system.

"I don't want anything done to the environment that's going to be detrimental but the restriction is way to harsh," explains Miller.

Every restaurant in Hamilton County and the state is required to have one. For those who don't they have to install it, there's just one problem.

"It'll be $10,000 to $30,000," Miller says.

The regulations don't differentiate between a national or corporate chain and a small, family owned restaurant.

"I'm tired of hearing about government promoting small business," says Miller. "Small business is the backbone of our country, this is not helping."

"I agree with that, you know absolutely," says Red Bank Mayor John Roberts.

Roberts sees the challenges, but says the local government's hands are tied.

"I wish there could be something to change, there's a smarter way of doing things and I don't think sometimes the federal government thinks from a local level, that we know what's best when really you don't," says Roberts.

Channel 3 spoke to one WWTA board member who says it began enforcing the law about a year ago and acknowledges it has put a major hardship on small businesses like Miller's. However, right now there's nothing they can do.

"I am going to stay open. I've put way to much passion and way to much effort into this little spot here for me to just shut it down," Miller says.

Channel 3 spoke with a couple of restaurant owners who say they've closed down because of these regulations.     

Local government officials say they have spoken to state leaders in the hopes Congress will lighten up on the EPA guidelines.

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