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    Autumn has arrived in Northern Illinois - celestially, if not meteorologically - and the beauty of the trees is on full display in the Village of Pecatonica. Unfortunately, what starts as a colorful vista ultimately results in a giant pile of leaf litter and, often, a lingering back ache. If you've gone to the trouble of raking, likely the last place you want the leaf pile for the winter is anywhere in your yard. Proper leaf disposal is a pain - I get it. But, depositing them in the street is not permitted and for a couple of pretty good reasons.

First, the village does not operate a program for removal. The street sweeper is often observed coursing the streets in the fall, and residents have, perhaps, confused the street cleaning effort with an activity purposed for leaf removal.

The sweeper is useful for removing gravel and other small debris from the gutters and paved surfaces of the streets, and that keeps the rain from washing the debris into the catch basins and storm water sewers, but the sheer volume of fall leaves far exceeds any capacity of the street sweeper to collect them. So, leaves placed into the street don't get collected, and, instead, they wash into the storm sewers and cause obstruction and surface flooding during periods of heavy rain and snow melt.

Second, and for these reasons, the village has adopted an ordinance against raking leaves into the street. The ordinance was adopted many years ago to facilitate surface water run-off and to preserve the aging and very costly storm water sewer system. Placing loose leaves and other yard waste from private property into the street is a violation of Village Ordinance and could result in an awkward visit from me or another officer and a fine of from $75 to $750.

“So”, you ask, "I am not permitted to burn them either, so what am I to do with the mountain of leaves killing my lawn?" Well, you can bag them and set them out at the curb for collection. The waste hauler will pick up yard waste of up to 50 pounds placed into a metal trash can or a yard waste bag (you'll need to mark the can with an "X"). Composting leaves is another option if you have the yard space.

Please don't place leaves into the street this fall; other nearby communities have collection programs, but Pecatonica doesn't - never has, I'm told. Your voluntary compliance with this ordinance will help to preserve the Village's valuable infrastructure and will help to avoid the need for enforcement. Thank you.

Chief Bob Smith


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