Even as Bernardsville Borough workers and a contractor hired specifically to collect and chip Sandy waste make their way around town, officials have now ordered residents to stop adding to curbside piles.
Starting Tuesday, placement of any debris within the right-of-way along a borough public road will be a violation of borough law and also will be subject to enforcement by borough police, Bernardsville Police Chief Kevin Valentine said.
A provision approved by the Borough Council on Monday would also make violators subject to the cost of removing that extra material from the right-of-way area, and could carry a fine of up to $2,000, the police chief said.
Ever since the Bernardsville Council agreed late last November and hired a contractor to do the job for about $365,000, there have been suspicions that some have been adding yard waste not produced by Sandy damage to the growing roadside woodpiles.
The potential cost of the removal had soared to an estimated $1.6 million or even more as of earlier this month, and this week the council called for a halt to new materials. The borough is expected that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will reimburse the municipality for 75 percent or more of such cleanup costs as a result of Sandy.
AshBritt, a contractor hired to remove logs and other wood debris from Superstorm Sandy left at the curbside on borough roads started the job on Jan. 21. The project was then expected to continue for about five or six weeks, borough officials said.
AshBritt and its subcontractors were being assisted by the borough's public works department. Borough workers are clearing smaller debris from road rights-of-way in an effort to keep costs down, Bernardsville Mayor Lee Honecker last week.
Collection will take place only once per street
"It is important to note that the contractor and borough staff will be making only one sweep per street," Honecker said last week. "So if they have already been to your street, nothing else will be taken."
Already earlier this month, the borough council and mayor said that if extra debris were put out after the collection, those residents would be subject to enforcement and even possible liens for the cost of removing extra materials added after the collection.
A delay in starting the collection lasted for several weeks while the borough and contractor searched for a location large enough to stage a collection and chipping operation for large logs.
However, Honecker said that eventually AshBritt staged the operation at a location in Ledgewood in western Morris County, allowing the collection process to begin.