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New Leaf Collection Plan Scrapped, Existing Policy to Remain

Plan to overhaul leaf policy ordinance is a "solution seeking a problem," Mayor Paul Aronsohn said. What's on the books will remain, though with harsher penalties to those violating the rules.

Residents must bag the leaves. No, scratch that. Well, make sure leaves are off the main roads and be certain that piles don't contain branches. Or you might get fined or even jailed if they do. Hold the phone, that might be a little too harsh.

After nearly a year spent drafting new methods of improving leaf collection in Ridgewood, the council on Wednesday decided it might have been legislating a problem that didn't exist.

On Wednesday night, the Ridgewood Village Council formally voted down the latest leaf collection ordinance and reintroduced the policy that's already on the books, but one that now includes harsher penalties for those caught breaking the rules.

"Maybe this is a solution in search of a problem," Mayor Paul Aronsohn said of the year-long process Wednesday night before the council voted 4-0 to kill Ordinance 3555 and introduce Ordinance 3359. (Deputy Mayor Albert Pucciarelli was not in attendance.)

Aronsohn said the disastrous leaf collection pickup last year was a one-off event, created by a freak Halloween snow storm. Confused residents put items out incorrectly and at the wrong times. The village's collection response too was spotty. Many found the trucks simply didn't arrive when they were supposed to.

"Generally," Aronsohn said, "residents follow the rules." 

The old ordinance that was introduced Wednesday is pretty simple – leaf piles are to be placed in the street along the curb line. Leaves in biodegradable bags should also be placed along the curb line. 

The leaves cannot be out more than seven days before scheduled pickups in that zone and they cannot be placed after the village has made a pass in that zone. No branches or other debris are allowed to be mixed into the piles.

The ordinances does not contain stipulations that residents on main roads must place leaves on the right-of-way or the edge of their property line. All streets should have leaves nestled on the curb line, according to the introduced ordinance.

(A PDF copy of the ordinance is attached at right.)

The only real changes are in enforcement. If caught violating the rules, residents could face a fine of $200 and $1,000. If nabbed twice, a judge might order the resident to perform community service. If the village has to come by and pick up the leaves 48 hours after a summons has been issued, a fee of up to $150 is tacked on. Those who are convicted and don't pay will receive a property tax lien. 

"We want to get this right," Aronsohn said. "We've spent a lot of time on this. I commend the village manager and staff on trying to get this right. But maybe we're already there."

In a telephone conversation Thursday, Aronsohn said the village will also look into potentially adding provisions on school zones.

The council is expected to formally adopt the revised leaf policy on Wednesday, Oct. 24.

What do you think, residents? Good move? Bad move? Sound off in the comments below.

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.

Bob October 11, 2012 at 05:32 PM
Losers got paid to come up with this? Maybe we need to downsize. It took them a year what a few smart high school students could conclude in 45 minutes
AC Willment October 11, 2012 at 06:02 PM
Good move, But what do you do about your neighbor's leaves or the lawn services? I haven't raked this year yet at all (I generally put my leaves in paper leaf bags so they do not blow back onto my lawn), but there is a pile of leaves in front of my house, obviously from my neighbor's lawn. I would then get a summons for his (or his lawn service's) violation. Perhaps I could, if it came to that, contest the summons by taking a picture of my unraked lawn and his raked one, with the expectation that the municipal court judge will apply logic to the exhibits. So many residents use lawn services now - I'm the exception to the rule, in that I rake my own lawn - so surely the services should be answerable.
J.D. Luke October 11, 2012 at 06:06 PM
I suppose I'm glad to see that overreaction to an unusual event did not last more than a year. Monday October 15th is seven days before my first scheduled leaf pickup. I'll live up to my side of the bargain, I hope the village lives up to its side. I must admit though, that I'd much prefer to have two possible weekends to work on the leaves for each pickup cycle rather than one, given the vagaries of the weather.
Ridgewood Counts October 11, 2012 at 06:34 PM
The new ordinance is still going in the wrong direction and should be defeated. Rather than use resources (enforcement officers) to hand out fines, have them patrol the village looking for problem areas. Divert the crews to clear the clogged roads immediately and then return to their scheduled rounds. Target high traffic areas going to and around schools and ambulance/fire/police routes.
RdgwdGRock October 11, 2012 at 06:35 PM
I have already seen leaf piles more than 7 days before a p/u. This is due to neighbors not informing their lawn services as to the p/u rules and schedules. If the 7 day rule is an absolute, then enforce it.
James Kleimann October 11, 2012 at 06:39 PM
Anyone who has observed leaf piles already up, you can upload a photo by clicking the "Upload a photo or video" button toward the right of the article. Leaves shouldn't be out now. The start of leaf collection season is Oct. 22 with Area A.
JAFO October 11, 2012 at 07:19 PM
here's why it's a problem - My first pick-up is 10/29 which means I cannot put leaves out for another 12 days. Many of my trees are already half bare and my yard is covered in about 2 inches of leaves.
The Flea October 11, 2012 at 07:34 PM
Sorry mayor, but last year was not just a "one of"event. The Patch's headline should read; "New Leaf Collection Plan Scrapped, Existing PROBLEM to Remain". Lets see how much overtime is paid this year to keep up with the leaf collections. It'll also be interesting to see how many summonses are issued.
J.D. Luke October 11, 2012 at 08:03 PM
Flea, are you expecting another October Snowpocalypse?
Mikka H October 11, 2012 at 08:09 PM
A leaf collection problem....leaf collection....with all that's going on around us you people are worried about frickin leaf collection.......holy crap.....
John Q. October 11, 2012 at 09:22 PM
Mikka you should have been here last year after the storm. Your head would have exploded.
The Flea October 11, 2012 at 09:23 PM
J.D. Luke, don't know the forecast but do know leaf collection has been a thorn in the Village's side for more than just last year. Guarantee there will be an abundance of overtime paid so the job gets done and the complaints are kept to a minimal.
The Flea October 11, 2012 at 09:28 PM
Sorry, should have been "complaints kept to a minimum." Mikka...the public's safety is at issue. Guess you haven't seen leaf collections in the past.
J.D. Luke October 12, 2012 at 01:02 AM
Agreed, we've had problems for quite a long while, but it seems to me that it was the big October storm throwing so many leaves and branches onto our properties that provided impetus for this whole discussion. Why else would we have had the discussion about branches on leaf piles? I'm sure there have always been a few cases of that but I don't recall ever hearing a complaint about that until this past year.
Mike October 12, 2012 at 11:09 AM
Assuming that an October snow storm does happen again or another large storm at another point that takes down branches, we have to bring them to the dump? Sounds unrealistic
Frustrated with Graydon October 12, 2012 at 01:24 PM
Why is it that you can drive through other towns that also have a large amount of trees and the leaves don't seem to present a problem. Drive through Paramus and streets are clear. They use leaf vacuums. Using bucket loaders to pile leaves to be taken away later (sometimes days later) cases tremendous obstructions/hazzards on the streets. Perhaps the council could consult towns in the area to see how they are able to collect leaves more effectively.
JP October 13, 2012 at 03:56 AM
In Mahwah we have our own dedicated DPW workers who are excellent in picking up the leaves throughout the season. I assume Paramus does also. Does Ridgewood have their own employees doing the job or are they farming this out to a private company? That may be the big difference.
James Kleimann October 13, 2012 at 03:59 AM
JP, Like Mahwah, Ridgewood has its own workers collecting the leaves during the season. There is no outsourcing of this service.
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