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Leave it Alone: Old Leaf Policy to Remain

Council officially killed a policy that sought harsh penalties onto homeowners found to be violating leaf collection regulations.

The leaves may be changing, but the village's policy governing when and where they can be placed won't be.

The Ridgewood Village Council on Wednesday night unanimously defeated an ordinance that would have made few substantive changes to the existing policy, spare some tough penalties to violators.

At one point during the year-long process, it was proposed that all residents bag the leaves. At another, they could have been jailed for not abiding by the rules. Later, some homeowners could only place leaves on the street, others in the right-of-way.

Now, it's fully scrapped, including the enforcement provisions that would have allowed the village to fine people up to $1,000, force up to 40 hours of community service, and place a tax lien on alleged violators.

"I don't see a a reason to change our policy and pass this," Mayor Paul Aronsohn said. "It was well intended but has been whittled down to nothing."

Although it was revealed that the DEP rescinded the state rule that homeowners could not place leaves out seven days prior to pickup, the village won't be changing pickup times.

Village Engineer Chris Rutishauser said he felt if the village spread out collection times, leaf piles would grow in size. That, he said, would amount to a public safety hazard.

Residents still are not allowed to place branches in the leaf piles.

Councilwoman Bernadette Walsh said she believes it's the repeat offenders that create the problems, and further suggested exploration on easing restrictions on bagging leaves prior to the seven-day period.

Aronsohn said the council in future meetings will touch upon those issues.

Have a question or news tip? Contact editor James Kleimann at James.Kleimann@patch.com, or find us on Facebook and Twitter. For news straight to your inbox every morning, sign up for our daily newsletter.

JV October 25, 2012 at 11:30 AM
A large, heavy tree branch landed in the street in front of my house. I picked it up and placed it on the median between the curb and the sidewalk, not wanting to cause a problem or violate the rules for the leaf collection on my block. The leaves for pickup were now in the street, and the branch was not. When I came home, the branch had been dragged into the middle of my front lawn, and there was a notice of violation attached to it. I thought the whole point was that what was being picked up was supposed to be in bags or on the street. The branch fit neither of those conditions. It scores no points to do the right thing and be punished for it. I can't imagine what's going to happen if the hurricane or its remnants slam us. Maybe I should go buy a wood chipper...
J.D. Luke October 25, 2012 at 02:25 PM
That's a bit of a relief. I try to abide by the rules, but I'm human and busy and I really don't want to suffer harsh penalties for putting out my leaves on the wrong day or something. This is particularly the case if the state-imposed regulation was rescinded as stated in the article. The remaining item that concerns me is that the trees around my house do not necessarily conform to the law with regard to when they drop their leaves. Indeed, last Spring I had a whole new batch of leaves when a bunch that remained on the tree all Winter long were forced off by new growth. That was very annoying, and it would have been nice to be allowed to blow those out into the street as well. One more thing... "whittled".
Ridgewood Mom October 25, 2012 at 03:50 PM
I'm glad to know, at least, that we will not have to visit you behind bars over this. :)
Hilary Jones October 25, 2012 at 04:38 PM
I don't know about other neighborhoods, but in ours, almost all the residents have lawn services that have been blowing the leaves out into the street since, well, a few weeks ago! And our official day to begin putting them out was yesterday? I think the problem lies manily with the lawn services which continue to what they've always done--come by once a week and blow everything off the properties into the street! Just saying...
JAFO October 25, 2012 at 05:26 PM
JV, As much as it stinks, your obligation with the brach was to cut it up so that it could fit in a bag or barrel.
AC Willment October 25, 2012 at 06:13 PM
Even more fun - my neighbour's lawn service piles the leaves in front of MY house rather than his. Which would mean I get blamed for his service's violation. (I take pictures of the leafless lawn and my leaf-covered one, just in case, to establish who is culpable here.) I always bag my leaves to prevent them blowing back onto my lawn, and a couple of days ago I left a couple of bags of leaves in the middle of my lawn, intending to drag them out to the curb at the right time. Apparently the village just came onto the lawn and took them anyway. As for lawn services, they are apparently laws unto themselves and do whatever they please. A few years ago, we had not one but three come to our cul-de-sac (where several seniors lived), all setting up trucks and equipment at the same time, and thank heaven we didn't have an emergency, as it would have been impossible for ambulances and fire trucks to get through. If the council are looking for someone to regulate, they might consider some rules regarding the lawn services. As you say ... just saying.
J.D. Luke October 25, 2012 at 06:29 PM
AC, are you on good terms with your neighbor? If so, why not just have a chat asking him to speak with his landscapers about doing things the right way? I'd certainly rather do that than go to the authorities with a complaint or even worse receive a summons of some sort.
JV October 25, 2012 at 10:56 PM
Thanks for letting me know how to be the right kind of citizen. As far as I was concerned, my first obligation was to remove the "offending" item. If you read my comments, I then placed it out of the way so that it would not be considered an unacceptable addition. Further, you are incorrect in your unsolicited guidance. According to the handwritten note on my notice, there must be "No branches/brush until yard waste season." This is now "leaf waste season." Apparently only leaves are acceptable now, irrespective of container. I shall never again dare to be so incorrect in my presumption of what it means to be a good neighbor.
J.D. Luke October 26, 2012 at 02:52 PM
In order to dispose of branches and brush, you either need to wait until Spring or get that stuff into your vehicle and hit the recycling center with it. Neither one is quite as convenient an option as one might like.
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