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Despite ban at dump, town cleaning up curbside brush

WARRENSBURG - Recent storms have downed tree limbs throughout town, leaving yards littered with broken branches, and the town government is willing to help out.

Despite a brush ban at the town dump, town highway crews are busy circulating through town and picking up roadside brush and disposing of it.

Property owners are welcome to pile a reasonable amount of brush by the side of the road, and it will be picked up by town crews, Supervisor Kevin Geraghty said this week.

"Residents can call the Town Hall and let us know they've got a pile of brush, and a crew will go out there to pick it up," he said.

This service, offered in addition to the upcoming annual Spring Clean-Up Days, was launched because of the damage caused by the recent snow storms, Geraghty said in response to an inquiry March 10 by Hudson Ave. resident Gary Cooper, who questioned the town's brush ban at the dump.

Answering Cooper's concerns at the monthly Town Board meeting, Geraghty noted that as of October 2009, the town stopped taking in brush, as was customary for decades, in response to the state Department of Environmental Conservation's move to prohibit municipal burning of brush.

The policy change has angered rural town officials, but DEC has defended the action on the basis of protecting the state's air quality.

With the only remaining practical method of disposing of brush being chipping it in a tub grinder, which the town doesn't own, the town board decided to quit accepting brush.

A tub grinder costs hundreds of thousands of dollars, and there's a long list of towns that are now seeking state grants to help out with the cost, Town Board member Austin Markey said.

Geraghty said that the DEC ban on municipalities burning didn't make sense, because towns burn under controlled, safe situations, unlike backyard burns.

Rural municipalities across upstate New York have raised objections to the brush burn ban - many passing resolutions in protest - but the DEC has not backed down on their policy change.

Geraghty noted two exceptions to the law - drills for fire companies and ceremonial burns, and he suggested the town might try one or the other at the dump, as he suggested a third solution for homeowners.

"If you know of where some state land is, throw the brush in the back of your pickup and deposit it there," he said with a grin.

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