Council members expect to hear update on brush collection program

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Township Council members in Lawrence Township are expected to discuss possible changes to the recently revised brush collection program when they meet at 6 p.m. Aug. 20 in the municipal building.

Greg Whitehead, the township’s director of public works, will present an update on the revised brush collection program. The revised regulations, which were approved by the council in 2018, took effect in January.

The regulations set out the permissible height and length of a leaf pile, as well as the length and diameter of tree limbs that will be collected by Department of Public Works crews.

Leaf piles cannot exceed 12 feet in length and 3 feet in height. Tree limbs cannot exceed 6 inches in diameter and 3 feet in length.

The township is divided into four zones for yard debris collection purposes. Leaves and yard debris can only be placed on the curb for collection according to the schedule. They should be placed at the curb on the Saturday or Sunday before the scheduled collection week.

However, some homeowners have told the council it is difficult to comply with the regulations, citing the amount of leaves and yard debris for collection. They have also cited landscapers’ schedules and weather conditions that might hamper the landscaping crews’ ability to gather leaves and debris to be put out for collection.

Residents in the Pine Knoll neighborhood, off Princeton Pike, commented on the new brush collection program at the council’s May 7 meeting. Residents of the Long Acres neighborhood presented the council with a petition urging revisions to the ordinance at its June 18 meeting.

The ordinance that set out the revised brush collection regulations grew out of discussions with Whitehead last year. He told the council it was hard to keep up with brush collection and said the crews did not have time for other tasks.

Leaves and yard debris were being placed on the curb after the scheduled pickup week and would sit there for weeks. Landscapers brought in yard debris, tree limbs and tree trunks from their jobs in other municipalities and that is what led to the changes in the brush collection program.

“The lack of enforcement of our reasonable limitations to the program could not continue,” Municipal Manager Kevin Nerwinski said. “The program was taking up too much of our resources, both in terms of manpower and equipment. It was adversely affecting our ability to properly maintain facilities, parks and sports fields.”

Residents expect the township’s buildings, parks and athletic fields will be maintained, while providing a nine-month-long brush collection program, he said. There is a finite number of public works employees and “something had to give,” he said.

But now that the new rules are in place and officials have heard comments from residents, council members have asked Whitehead to provide an update on the program and to discuss some of the issues that have occurred since the new regulations took effect.

It is possible changes may be made and that is something council members will discuss on Aug. 20, Nerwinski said.

“We will continue to make adjustments that best serve the entire community,” he said.

Newinski cautioned that the adjustments may adversely impact some residents. He said some of the responsibility for removing brush from a private home should fall upon the property owner and not entirely on municipal government.

“In the end, it is about being fiscally responsible and to provide the maximum amount of services with the resources we have,” he said.