Don't Leave Your Leaves Alone In '12

Published 3:58 pm Tuesday, January 3, 2012

FARMVILLE – Town officials are hoping residents who don't rake their lawns turn over a new leaf in 2012.


Without a new law.

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Town Council was asked to adopt an ordinance by a resident concerned with the potential fire hazard posed, as well as unsightliness created, by un-raked leaves.

“Why don't we look into it,” Town Manager Gerald Spates told council members during their December work session. “I can understand the lady's concern.”

But subsequent research found no Virginia localities with a leaf raking ordinance, just one community in Minnesota, and the Town will keep an eye on the situation rather than draft a legal requirement.

Work Session

During council's December work session, Spates noted a letter from a town resident who “brings up an issue that we've had some time in the past about we do have some residents that are very slow or reluctant to get up the leaves off their property…It is unsightly and it could be a fire hazard. What I would like council to consider is…an ordinance that would require property owners, just like we have for cutting grass, require that they get up their leaves.”

In the letter, the resident addresses a “problem” she has “observed in the Town of Farmville…There seem to be a lot of residents who do not rake their leaves during the leaf falling season. This creates several problems. First, leaves that blow all over the neighborhood onto their neighbor's properties. I myself keep my yard raked regularly, only to have the leaves of others blow over onto my yard and kill the grass.”

There is, she writes, “a potential fire hazard if someone were to carelessly drop a cigarette into the accumulated leaves.”

Additionally, she tells Town Council, “it is just plain unsightly to see layers upon layers of un-raked leaves lying around through the winter months.”

And she asks council members for “your assistance in the creation of an ordinance to address this problem.”

A similar Town ordinance does address lawns that are left uncut.

“Do other towns have (leaf) ordinances?” asked council member Dr. Edward I. Gordon.

Subsequent research would uncover no Virginia localities with such a law.

During the discussion, council member Sally Thompson noted that not everyone approaches leaf raking with the same strategy.

“Different people rake at different times,” she observed.

And different trees drop their leaves at different times, she added. “We don't have an exact time when leaves (fall).”

It also depends, Dr. Gordon said, “on how many trees you've got.”

“Or how many trees your neighbor has,” Ms. Thompson said. “They blow over into your yard.”

Spates told council, “I think her issue is she gets all her leaves up and then they all blow over from the adjoining property owner.”

The issue is not Town workers who collect leaves raked to the curb.

The letter writer added a handwritten postscript to her letter applauding the Town workers, saying, “our Town employees do an excellent job trying to keep our town looking nice and I think property owners should do their part to help them maintain their goal.”

Council member Thompson said, “I think the guys do a great job…”

“They do get them (the leaves),” Spates agreed, and it was then that he told council members, “Why don't we look into it…I can understand the lady's concern.”

During Town Council's regular December monthly meeting the following week, Spates noted that, “We have researched it and can't find anything except one community that has a leaf ordinance up in Minnesota, so I would suggest we just write to the resident and tell them we'll try to monitor the situation. I think it's a problem between two neighbors and maybe they can work it out without us getting involved.”

Ms. Thompson had summed up her feelings on the issue during the work session, stating a philosophy she believes would provide the remedy.

“Be kind,” she said, “to your neighbors.”

Superintendent of Public Works, Robin Atkins, said most residents do rake their leaves. “We're still picking them up,” he told council.