A warning to Princeton residents: The town is planning to issue summonses within the next few weeks to property owners who leave yard waste such as grass clippings, leaves, tree branches and weeds piled on streets.
Town employees noticed a few weeks ago that about 25 percent of homeowners in various areas are piling their brush on the street. The town sent out notices to more than 200 property owners in two areas of town designated as zones one and two for town brush collection, according to Bob Hough, the town’s director of infrastructure and operations. Last week the town gave 37 property owners who did not respond a final warning to remove the brush within 72 hours.
Anyone who does not remove their brush from the street will be issued a summons by the police or a violation notice by the health department and fined.
“Brush on the roadway is hazardous for residents,” Hough told the Princeton Council Monday night.
“There is a considerable amount of non-compliance within the old Borough boundaries, and it has worked its way beyond the perimeter of the old Borough and crept farther out,” Hough said. “People see a neighbor leaving brush out, and they say `hey, I’m leaving it out too.’ It’s a rat game. People are ratting each other out. If someone gets a notice, they call and ask if we have given one to a neighbor who has brush out. Usually the answer is yes.”
The town will issue notices to property owners in other neighborhoods in the coming weeks.
Resident Kate Warren said during public comment prior to Hough’s report that former Princeton Borough residents have been penalized as a result of the consolidated Princeton’s brush pick up schedule. Borough residents were promised they would not lose any services as a result of consolidation.
“I have a small backyard like many former Borough residents, I had no place to put all my weeds and brush,” Warren said. “I was told I could put then in car and bring them to the composting site in Lawrence, join the town composting program, or compost them in backyard. My yard does not have any room for compost. The alternative is to put them in the trash and then they will go to a dump site, increasing the tonnage of trash the town dumps.”
Warren said lawn debris is piling up in the former Borough.
“I understand the town is considering hiring an enforcement officer,” she said. “Rather than fining people into submission, why don’t you expand the brush program and pick up regularly like you used to, or expand the composting program and provide it free to every taxpayer?”
Councilwoman Jenny Crumiller said the town still has bag pick up. Residents can put brush in big leaf bags.
Councilman Patrick Simon told Warren that brush pick up for her area of town is scheduled for the first week in August.
In the former Borough, residents could place their brush on the street any time and the public works department would pick it up. That practice was eliminated in the consolidated Princeton. Now all residents must place their brush on the street the week their pick up is scheduled.
Bagged leaves are collected regularly certain times of year. One pick up was scheduled for July and one is scheduled for August. The next leaf bag pick up after that is scheduled for October. Brush is not supposed to be placed in the leaf bags, however, according to town regulations.