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.
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