Monday, November 02, 2009

Illegal Street Leaves--Whose (As)Fault Is This?

A typical scene in Princeton this time of year--a car swerving to avoid a pile of leaves. This one's on Snowden. Nice clean lawn, leaf-clogged street. Most of the dumping is done by out-of-town landscape crews who are unaware of or openly indifferent towards the township leaf ordinance.

These leaves were dumped in the street ten days before it was legal to do so. Within a couple days, other neighbors had put their leaves out, too, since it's easier to copy one's neighbor than check the township website.

The township, responding to a state mandate, passed an ordinance that strictly limits when leaves can be placed in the street, and how much of the street they can block. But township staff are so busy scrambling to pick up the illegally dumped leaves that they have no time to enforce the ordinance. Fear of rousing anger from highly taxed residents also suppresses enforcement. In a brief survey, I counted twenty violations on just two long blocks of Magnolia and Clover.

Most of the residents in this neighborhood of large yards could easily find a weedy corner for a pile of leaves that would, as it settles back into the ground, recycle nutrients, absorb rainfall, and suppress the weeds underneath. Instead, the leaves are blown into the street, where they become a public hazard and burden.

Below is a partial description of the ordinance, quoted from the township website.

"Residents should have their loose (un-bagged) leaves placed on the paved roadway not more than 7 days prior to the date of collection and must be out for collection before 7:00 a.m. on the Monday morning of the scheduled week. After your section has been collected you are prohibited from putting any yard material on the Township Right of Way until your next scheduled collection. (The Township Right of Way is the paved area and the area ten (10) feet behind the edge of pavement or curb line.)"

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