FAIR LAWN, NJ — Property owners will no longer be able to put their leaves and yard waste at the curb, which borough officials say was not in keeping with state environmental code.
On April 13, the Borough Council agreed to end the leaf and yard waste curbside pickup program, citing environmental, financial and manpower concerns.
Leaves and yard waste will be accepted in leaf bags, or containers that hold up to 40 pounds; or they will be accepted in the same manner at the Recycling Center on Saddle River Road.
The borough will save funds, not the full $400,000 for the fall program, the borough manager said, but close to it. He did not say whether he considered the savings in the 0% tax levy increase in the annual budget that was recently approved.
Residents will pay, though, either with their own time to bag or barrel leaves, or through their landscapers who will do the work, likely at an added cost.
Borough Manager Jim Van Kruiningen said the borough was in violation of its Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) storm water permit by allowing the seasonal debris at the curb.
From October to December, during the leaf pickup program, Van Kruiningen said it took 35 working days, or seven weeks; 11 vehicles and 16 individuals to complete the leaf and yard waste pickup program at a cost of more than $400,000. The work comes at an additional cost of everyday DPW duties, as well, the manager said.
"This has come up before," Van Kruiningen said. "I'm aware it's an extremely sensitive subject.
"I think this is the time. The DEP is really stressing to protect those waterways."
The manager said the leaves not only clog stormwater drains, but they remove oxygen from the water during the decomposition process, which in turn, produces more algae.
Mayor Kurt Peluso recognized homeowners will complain their landscaping bills will increase, "but it's something that should have been happening to begin with," inferring leaf pickup was not in compliance with DEP storm water management.
Leaves can be at the curb 10 feet away from storm drains, but must be picked up within seven days, Van Kruiningen said. But with the new standards, no leaves or yard waste can be left curbside.
Deputy Mayor Josh Reinitz said curbside leaf build-up has been a driving hazard in the borough, and Deputy Mayor Cristina Cutrone noted it's environmentally unsound, as well.
"We'll promote this during the early and late summer so people are well, well aware," Van Kruiningen said.