Upper Hanover supervisors unanimously approved a new recycling ordinance as written on Tuesday, taking a wait-and-see approach to how the state mandated program will play out in the township.
Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection rules went into effect for the township after the 2010 U.S. Census found the township had reached the population threshold that triggers mandated recycling.
Under the ordinance, which goes into effect April 1, residents will be required to recycle aluminum cans, glass containers, plastics, and yard/leaf waste. Residents will be provided with recycle bins by their designated collector (in most cases, this will be residents’ current trash collector) and recyclables will be collected twice a month, with the exception of yard and leaf waste, which will be collected twice a year. According to the ordinance, leaf waste includes “leaves, garden residues, shrubbery and tree trimmings, and similar material, but does not include grass clippings.” Tree trimmings include twigs and branches with a diameter less than 4 inches and length a 6 feet, or as specified by a designated collector for curb-side pickup.
The township also has contracted with John Miller and Son, Inc. to provide a leaf waste drop-off location at 2542 Geryville Pike. The drop off location will be open on the first Saturday of each month from 8 a.m. to noon beginning April 1. This service is intended only for Upper Hanover residents, and those bringing materials to the locations will be required to show identification that includes their home address.
The ordinance also places a ban on the burning of yard/leaf waste, as well as other items designated as recyclable under the new law. However, according to Supervisor Chair Richard Fain, residents will still be able to burn paper and cardboard in burn barrels (which are not designated required recyclable items under the ordinance), as well as have campfires on their properties.
Residents who violate the new law could face fines ranging from $25 to $600.
Township Solicitor Edward Skypala noted that the township could face fines of up to $10,000 per day if it failed to adopt a recycling ordinance that complied with DEP guidelines.
“My recommendation would be to adopt it as is and live with it, see if there are any issues that are a problem and we take them back piecemeal to DEP,” Skypala said, adding that township officials “did sit down with DEP to go over this ordinance line-by-line to get the minimally restrictive ordinance that we could.”
Supervisors passed the ordinance with little discussion, saying that they would monitor the program as it unfolds.
However, several community members at the meeting raised concerns that portions of the ordinance dealing with yard/leaf waste would place undue burdens on residents living in more rural areas of the township.
Palm resident Howard Valentine said that in the past year he has had to cut down about 15 pine trees on his property and questioned whether larger tree limbs or stumps would be accepted at the township drop-off location or hauled away by collectors, or whether the township would provide another means of disposing of such items. He said he was concerned that the ordinance would lead people to dump large items on unapproved properties.
Township Manager Stanley Seitzinger Jr. said that anything exceeding the 4 inch diameter would not be accepted by township collectors. Skypala added that removal of large items is perhaps an issue that will need to be raised with DEP in the future. But the residents urged the board to be more proactive in addressing the potential problem, saying that additional costs of hauling the wood away and labor required to bundle recyclable limbs places a greater burden on rural residents.
“I understand the mandate - I totally understand that. But instead of waiting for a lot more people to complain, is it something [the board] could logically look at this” and anticipate a solution for disposing large limbs and stumps, Valentine asked.
“This was just simply a starting point,” Supervisor Dorothy Diehl responded. “We realize we’re going have to make” future changes to the ordinance. She continued, “Your concerns are valid. And you know, we certainly don’t want people riding through the township and just dumping on an empty lot.”
“The biggest stumbling block [in drafting the ordinance] was this yard waste,” Supervisor Ben Fiorito said. “And we’re just forced to meet the DEP requirements and we’ll do the best we can with drop-off points. But any expansion of that will cost taxpayer money. ... We’ll do what we have to do, but it may affect us all in our taxes and we’re trying - at least at first - to not to have to do that.”
More information about Upper Hanover’s new recycling program is available on the township’s website at http://upperhanovertownship.org/Recycling.htm.