October 25, 2014

City council to look at tree and brush pickup policy

7/30/13

STANDISH — The Standish city council will likely be looking at its tree and brush collection policy at the end of the summer.

Currently, city workers are collecting plant materials left at the roadside, but at a council meeting July 15 City Manager Curt Hillman said it is time-consuming for city employees and can take two or three days every other week to clean up.

This in turn is slowing down other projects those workers could focus on, such as replacing water meters, and the policy seems to be abused, he added.

“It’s gotten out of hand,” he said. “People are putting the whole tree out and it’s costing us a lot.”

“It was just a few people doing it consistently, but now everyone else seems to think, ‘Well, if they can do it, we can do it too,’” Mayor Mark Winslow said.

Councilwoman Vi Cook said Orchard Street and Grove Street are particularly bad for people cutting down trees and leaving them for the city to handle, and Hillman said traffic on some streets is getting cut down to one lane in the process. Others are leaving grass clippings at the roadside without properly closed bags, and the clippings are spilling out and forcing city workers to try and sweep it up, he said.

Hillman floated the idea of setting up a schedule for people to bring their plant materials to a drop-off point and having someone there to make sure everything thrown out is appropriate, but the council did not make any decision on the matter at that time.

Clerk-Treasurer Peggy Burtch said if the city changes its ordinance on throwing out plant material to make it a civil infraction rather than a misdemeanor, it could write tickets for violators.

According to Hillman, the brush pickup was initially envisioned to help people out after storms that knocked down tree branches, and to help clean up in the spring. He thinks it could remain for spring cleanup, but not for the rest of the year.

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