MONTGOMERY COUNTY

DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS AND TRANSPORTATION

LEAF VACUUM DISTRICT EXPANSION PROGRAM

 

 

 

Introduction

 

Executive Regulation 6-99AM adopted on November 28, 2000 provides for the expansion of the Leaf Vacuum District (District) in Montgomery County (copy attached). The purpose of this document notifies all residents of this change and provide guidance to those outside the District who would like to receive this service. Nothing will change for those currently residing within the District.

 

Until now, the Montgomery County Department of Transportation (DPWT) has provided leaf collection only in the area designated as Leaf Vacuum District (formerly the Suburban District). Exhibit A of the attachment shows the boundaries of the District, which was established by law in 1927. Those residing within the District have been receiving annual leaf collection services and have been paying a special fee as part of the Solid Waste Recycling Fee on their tax bill (see below).

 

A brief description of the leaf collection service is as follows: In the fall of each year DPWT's Highway Maintenance Section (HMS) will post signs along County or State maintained rights-of-way to announce a range of dates for the leaf collection. Those eligible for leaf collection service (any homeowner who pays the fee) rake their leaves into a pile along the roadside in front of their property. On the appointed day, HMS crews will vacuum the leaves off the roadside and transport the leaves to a composting site. Normally, each property receives two collections each fall, weather permitting. This service may be performed by other agents at the discretion of the Department Director, and shall be based on the cost-effectiveness of the program.

 

Questions and Answers

 

 

Q.            My neighbors and I don't currently receive leaf vacuuming service but would like to have our leaves vacuumed up every year. How do we get started?

 

A.                  You can begin by contacting your neighborhood organization with your request. They may know of others in your neighborhood with the same request. DPWT will only entertain requests for leaf collection services from civic organizations or organized groups representing existing neighborhoods. The organization or group may petition the County Executive (CE) for participation in the service.

 

Q.                  My neighborhood does not have a formal civic association or neighborhood group that represents us. How can we work with the County?

 

A.            The purpose of the County working with an organized group is to streamline the process. We do not have the staffing resources available to be able to attempt to organize the neighborhood. We have found that working with a small number of representatives is a more efficient way of handling neighborhood-wide issues. If your neighborhood does not currently have a representative group already established, you may find some volunteers willing to do the necessary legwork. Or you may find a nearby association willing to include your neighborhood with theirs. The County is also willing to work with representatives of informal groups as long as the petition requirements are met.

 

Q.                  What are the requirements for this petition?

 

A.                  The written petition must comply with the following requirements:

 

1. Be signed by at least 80% of the owners in the neighborhood/area to be included in the program.

 

2. Include a specific description of the boundaries of the affected neighborhood/area.

 

3. Include the number of households to be added to the Leaf Vacuuming Service.

 

4. Be received by the County no later than April 15 of the year prior to the year service is desired. For example, if service is desired in the fall of 2004, the County must receive the petition no later than April 15, 2003.

 

5. Be delivered to the Department of Public Works and Transportation (DPWT), 101 Monroe Street, 10th Floor, Rockville, Maryland 20850.

 

6. Establish a contact person for the group.

 

Q.                  Are there a specific number of households needed for our neighborhood/area to be considered?

 

A.                  Yes. The County will require that if the neighborhood/area proposed to be included is not directly adjacent to a current leaf collection area, then it must consist of 100 or more households.

 

Q.                  What if my neighborhood has less than 100 households?

 

A.                  Individual streets in neighborhoods with less than 100 households may be added to the program on a block-by-block basis where practical and where they are directly adjacent to an existing collection area. In this instance the requirement that 80% of the households sign the petition will apply.

 

Q.             What does the County consider a household?

 

A.            Single family units and each unit in a multifamily building will be counted equally as a household. However, for petitioning purposes, only the signatures of the property owners will be counted toward the 80% minimum.

 

Q.            What is the timetable from the time we submit the petition and can we have any input into the decision whether or not our neighborhood will be included?

 

A.                  After receiving the petition, the Director, DPWT, will determine if the request meets the above minimum criteria. If the minimum criteria are met, then the Director will hold a hearing to receive public comments on the petition within 120 days of the date on which the Director verified the minimum criteria.

 

Q.                  How will we be notified of the hearing?

 

A.            Notice of the hearing will be given to the contact person in the affected neighborhood/area. The date and time of the hearing will be advertised in a newspaper in general circulation in Montgomery County at least ten days before the hearing.

 

Q.                  When will the decision be made and how will we be notified of it?

 

A.                  Within ninety days after the hearing, the Director, DPWT, will recommend to the County Executive (CE) that the petition be either approved or denied. Notice of the CE's decision will be given to the County Council and to each property owner in the affected area.

 

Q.                  If the County Executive approves the petition, how much will the service cost, and how and when will we pay for it?

 

A.                  The service is based on the prior years' actual cost to provide the service, which includes two pickups each year. For the 2005 leaf vacuum service, the fee is $74.28 for single family homes and $2.72 for multi-family units. The fee is part of the solid waste recycling fee and is charged on the owners' tax bill every year. The first assessment will take place no later than July 1 of the year in which service will take place. The fee will vary annually to reflect the actual cost of the program.

 

Q.                  Does the fee include the cost of the petitioning process?

 

A.                  No. All non-government costs related to the petitioning process must be borne by the neighborhood group requesting the service. Those costs include, but are not limited to, postage, printing, copying, etc. However, administrative costs of processing the petition and holding the formal hearing to receive comments from the affected residents, will be borne by the County, as well as costs associated with verifying, investigating, etc.

 

Q.                  Will there be any limitations to the number of neighborhood s that can be included?

 

A.            The County may limit inclusion to first-come/first-served if we receive a large number of petitions. Several reasons for this may include: tonnage limits at the Composting Facility, available resources such as trucks, vacuums and manpower, contracting availability or other reasons.

 

Q.                  Will the County provide any assistance to help us through this process? Who can we contact?

 

A.                  Yes. DPWT's Highway Maintenance Section (HMS) is charged with providing the Leaf Vacuum Service. They recommend that any groups that are interested in the program contact them before actually starting this process. Their experienced managers can attend your regular neighborhood meetings to provide an overview of the program and also answer any questions. They are also upgrading their Internet web page to reflect this expansion program. Mr. Steve Suprata is managing the Leaf Vacuum Expansion Program and will even assist your community in defining the boundaries so that the actual logistics of leaf vacuuming are more effective. Information packets have been developed to provide more information to any individuals and groups who are interested. We will send these information packs out to those who request information.

 

For further information contact Mr. Suprata, Program Manager, at:

 

Office: (240) 777-6000          Fax: (240) 777-7670

E-mail: steven.suprata@montgomerycountymd.gov

                                                                                                                                               

                Address:                Steve Suprata, Program Manager I

                                                Highway Maintenance Section

                                                101 Orchard Ridge Drive, 2nd Floor

                                Gaithersburg, MD 20878

 

Q.                  What if we decide that we no longer want the service?

 

A.                  The process for discontinuing the service is the same as requesting it. A neighborhood/area desiring to leave the program must have the support of not less than 80% of the households in the neighborhood/area before soliciting the agreement of the County.

 

Q.                  I don't have a need for the service. I bag my leaves for recycling collection or have a lawn service remove them when they clean my lawn. However, most of my neighbors want the service. Can I be left out?

 

A.                  The purpose of this program is to have whole communities take part in the leaf vacuum program. The logistics of leaving out certain addresses would result in a very complicated, unwieldy and inefficient program. You can still have your lawn service clean your lawn and remove the leaves or have them deposit the leaves at the curb (not in the street) for scheduled vacuum pickup. Or, you can still bag the leaves. However, if your community petitions for the service and is approved for it by the County, all households in the affected area will be required to pay the leaf vacuuming fee. You may also want to express your comments at the advertised hearing prior to the County Executive's decision whether or not to accept the request. There may be others whose views are similar to yours. The hearing is the appropriate forum to express those views.