Ewing Township is implementing new procedures for leaf and brush collection starting next month.
Under an ordinance amendment approved earlier this year by council and Mayor Bert Steinmann, collections will no longer be scheduled periodically and instead will take place year round.
Under the new regulations, residents will be prohibited from raking leaves or debris into the street for pickup, as had been allowed in the past.
“We always had an ordinance, but we needed to tweak it a little bit,” Steinmann said. Under the old procedures, “you could put any type of branches out on the street, whether they were 4-feet, 6-feet, 10-feet or 20 feet-long. One guy even put a whole tree out there. You can’t do that anymore.”
Now brush must be cut into lengths of no more than 4 feet and placed at the curb. It can be loose or placed in a container.
Large batches of brush can be bound together using rope, twine or other similar recyclable materials.
Trees, tree trunks and branches larger than 6 feet in diameter are not allowed and must be broken down further.
“A tree trunk doesn’t work,” the mayor said. “If that’s the case, then you either you or your contractor need to make arrangements to have that removed.”
Leaves and grass, meanwhile, must be put in a container or in a biodegradable bag (a paper bag for example) at the curb. Plastic bags are not allowed.
A change in environmental regulations at the state level restricting the placement of loose leaves in the street necessitated the change.
Steinmann said another reason was issues caused by allowing debris to be raked into the streets.
“We were having a lot of issues with our storm drains,” he said. “Basically, they were getting filled—the stuff was getting stuck in them, and public works would have to go out and clean out the basins.
“After a while some of the leaves and everything else washed down the pipe and then completely stopped them up, and it wound up creating flooding.”
He said that in one case, the town even had to rip out the storm drain and pipe and replace them.
“It was blocked so solid that nothing could get through,” Steinmann said. “It was a lot of expense, so we needed to stop that. I mean, storm drains will still get clogged with other stuff, but it’s not going to happen as often.”
Once the new rules go into effect next month, there will be grace period before full enforcement begins.
The mayor said the township has embarked on an information campaign to attempt to let as many residents as possible know about the new rules. This includes a full page ad in this issue of the Ewing Observer (see Page 3.)
“We want to try to make sure that everybody clearly understands,” he said. For a first-time violation, the township will issue a warning. After that, people found to be in noncompliance will be notified and required to dispose of the debris properly.
One advantage of the new rules is that people will be able to put out yard debris whenever they need to, rather than having to adhere to a schedule, as has been the case in the past.
“They can leave it out anytime,” the mayor said. “Whether it’s grass clippings, or leaves, or garden growth or any of that stuff. Just containerize it and put it on the street.”
Residents who don’t want to leave yard debris at the curb can still dispose of it at the township’s brush drop-off site on Jack Stephan Way. For more information and hours of operation, go to ewing.org.