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No Leaf Collection Next Year?


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Wazzup with this?

There's no more leaving those leaves at roadside

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

BY JULIA M. SCOTT

Star-Ledger Staff

A funny thing happens when the fiery red, neon orange and sun- glow yellow leaves of autumn hit the streets: They turn rainwater into the blah color of ordinary tea.

And the government doesn't like it.

So beginning next year, New Jersey towns that let homeowners rake leaves into the street will not be allowed to leave the foliage there for long.

The new law targets towns where leaves are raked into the streets to be picked up later by public works crews. In many of these towns, the leaves languish for most of the fall, clogging storm drains and causing street flooding. Under the new rule, homeowners' piles of leaves will not be allowed in the street longer than seven days.

Through more-frequent collections, state officials hope fewer fallen leaves will get into storm drains, making for a cleaner water supply, as mandated by federal anti-pollution rules.

"We can't look at the environment on an individual basis. What we all do together does have a major impact on our quality of water," said Barry Chalofsky, a pollution-control bureau chief for the state Department of Environmental Protection. "

In New Jersey, the municipal stormwater regulation program gives each targeted municipality until next Oct. 1 to comply.

Officials in some towns call the new rule unrealistic, saying it forces them to consider mandatory leaf bagging or requiring residents to pile leaves on their lawns.

"With this, you're going to have house upon house with leaves stacked on their front lawn instead of in the street, waiting for the whistle to blow when DPW gets there," said Gary Englert, the West Orange recycling coordinator. "It's going to make collection very difficult."

Chalofsky admitted the plan is less than realistic and will be difficult to enforce.

"It's really more of an educational thing," he said. "We want to try and eliminate these piles being left on the street for weeks and weeks and weeks."

Many towns in New Jersey's leafy suburbs allow residents to rake into the street, then send crews out to vacuum or scoop up the leaves. Other towns ask residents to bag. The new law will affect 464 New Jersey cities and suburban towns, including those that do not offer curbside sweep-ups now. The 102 towns not affected are all rural, where the drainage system is different and where leaf piles pose no problem.

The leaves start piling up in the streets of 6.7-square-mile Westfield almost as soon as they start falling.

"It's impossible to pick up leaves every seven days," said Claude Shaffer, Westfield's superintendent of public works. "It takes us four days to do one section, and we have 10 sections. It takes us five weeks to do the whole town."

Shaffer said the town probably will require residents to bag leaves, to avoid the huge cost of additional labor and equipment needed for weekly townwide sweeps.

In Fanwood, which is only 1.3 square miles, an eight-man crew makes about five passes by each home over the roughly two-month leaf season, said Raymond Manfra, the borough's director of public works. The crew works six-day weeks in November.

Under the new rules, collecting leaves will become more time-consuming for towns. A scooper could damage grass, so that leaves only the vacuum, a much slower tool, for picking up piles left on lawns.

"Anything you do to slow down the process is only going to make it harder," Manfra said. "Residents will see a decline in service."

Kenilworth resident Mike Gonzalez foresees more towns going to bagging.

"Quite honestly, I think it's going to be more of a mess," said Gonzalez, 38, as he installed a wire reindeer light on his front lawn. "Tons of bags will fill up landfills even more."

Englert also questioned the environmental impact of the new law.

"If anybody thinks this will bring about less storm drain clogging in the fall because the leaves are not raked into the street, then they're kidding themselves," the West Orange recycling coordinator said.

To Manny Carlino, who owns a landscaping business with some 200 customers in Scotch Plains, Westfield, and Fanwood, the new law is a boon.

"There's no possible way the towns are going to be able to pick up the leaves every seven days and comply with the act," Carlino said.

He predicts homeowners will be forced to pay private firms like his $100 to $300 to pick up leaves each week -- that's in addition to fees for blowing or raking them off the yard.

"It's almost going to be a burden for us, although I welcome the future revenue," Carlino said.

Complying with the new regulation is not a big deal in less-populated areas of the state. In Sussex County, where fallen leaves are part of the rustic environment, Stephen Losey, the county road supervisor, said, "We have no leaf regulations on the books as I know it."

Towns that already require bagging also won't have a problem.

In Woodbridge, the town phased in leaf bagging to save money over the last nine years, said Jerry MacIntyre, director of public works. Plastic and brown bags were passed out to residents courtesy of a recycling grant. Four years into the program, the town began charging those residents still asking for loose leaf collection. Now only 140 residents request the extra service.

The bagging program has cut Woodbridge's leaf pick-up time in half, down to six weeks, and shaved a quarter-million dollars from the budget.

With so few homes not already in compliance with the new rules, the transition will be easy for Woodbridge, MacIntyre said. "This new requirement under the stormwater act is not going to be a real big headache for us."

:unsure::unsure::unsure::huh::unsure:

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They should pick up the leaves. That would be a great job for a politicians son, daughter, brother as Superintendant of Leaf Collection. The person would also need at least five assistants to figure out the plan of action and about 10 leaf collectors. Thats 16 more jobs that Nepotism would cover. Sounds good to me. The more votes the better.

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Dear Guest (the one that started the thread),

R.I.F. - READING IS FUNDAMENTAL

Try reading that article again. It says nothing about residents not being allowed to leave the leaves at curbside. Just that towns will now be mandated to collect those leaves that are at curbside, with in 7 days. Now, if a town legislates that residents cannot leave them at curbside, then we have a problem.

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