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Millbrook cleans up its code

MILLBROOK — The October snowstorm left piles of brush for many residents. In the village of Millbrook the highway department’s cleanup was a long and exhausting process. Although the storm left a large amount of debris — more than the department usually handles — Highway Superintendent Bob Collocola approached the Village Board complaining about how residents handled the storm aftermath.“Bob had come to us at least two meetings ago and asked that we give him some assistance with managing how folks put brush out on the street,” said Mayor Laura Hurley. “We did indeed have a brush program resolution as part of our code. I have the proposed updates to it. For the most part we had covered what we needed.”Collocola asked the mayor to make some updates to the village code given what he considered was a problem with how residents handled the storm debris. He requested the village add to the code that limbs over 10-feet long and 6-inches in diameter not be considered brush, and to not allow brush to be mixed in with the leaves. He also asked to restrict residents from dumping large amounts of the debris in the roadways. “One of the most important things folks need to remember is don’t put these materials on storm drains or in catch basins,” said Hurley. “This leads to clogs, flooding and probably the worst hazards [we’ve seen], especially this time of year when we tend to have some wet weather incidents and then freezing. Believe it or not the leaves and grass is still coming out even at this late of a date.”Hurley proposed an update to the code dealing with storm damage. She said that after the October snowstorm the highway department had to reassess how to assist residents with storm debris removal. Hurley said the highway crew would help residents deal with storm damage for up to two weeks after the storm. This does not include removing stumps and tree trunks, but rather branches and leaves.“It’s just too difficult for the department,” Hurley said. “In this case we have limited vehicles and we have to outfit them with our sanders and our blowers and that’s why we don’t have the ability to pick up the brush the whole time. We would like people to get out there and get it done and this updated code just spells it out.”Hurley said under no circumstances should grass clippings and dirt be put into the street for removal. The mayor also reminds village residents that they are eligible to use the town of Washington transfer station and can compost organic materials and recyclables there for no charge. Hurley asked the board if there were any concerns or suggestions for the proposed updated code.“I like the idea that some of the brush is defined for people, which may sound ridiculous but otherwise they will bring out half a tree and drop it behind the curb,” said Mike Herzog, village trustee. “I have a slight problem with the two weeks because it depends on the severity of the storm. Some people may need to have someone come in and help them with their storm damage. I don’t know if that’s a realistic time frame to do that.”Hurley responded, saying if a resident has damage severe enough that they would need outside help such as a tree removal service or a contractor, that the outside service would dispose of the debris itself. Village Attorney Rebecca Valk suggested that depending on the severity of the storm the village could give a reasonable extension, as long as it’s done fairly.Hurley said she is going to continue to tweak the language of the proposed update to the code for brush and leaf collection and present it again at the next regular board meeting, set for Monday, Feb. 13. “Please exercise common sense — that’s all it really is,” Hurley said. “We are just asking for common sense when placing materials in the roadways; that’s all we really ask. Don’t create a hazard.”

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