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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Anatomy of an Ordinance

I get emails all the time from citizens who are having issues with something, and would like Fort Thomas Matters to help get it more publicity. I know most, if not everyone, has a little problem that bothers them about their neighborhood, street or city in general. Take a look at these comments from a previous post to get a flavor of what bothers some of you neighbors in Fort Thomas.

No, this post isn't going to be a clone of the School House Rock video, "I'm Just a Bill" which was no doubt shown to you in grade school. I'm just not that clever. But to see how an ordinance gets adopted by the city, I decided to take a personal nuisance of mine to the city.

I love my neighbors. They are all great people. And I love the fact that our city is lined with huge, mature trees. Obviously, when summer transitions to fall, these trees beget huge amounts of leaves, which find their way from adjoining houses into the street. Hopefully, you know where I'm going with this.

I wanted to see if council could help remedy an annual problem that I have with my neighbors leaves getting into my driveway and clogging my drain, and subsequently, getting my basement wet.

Do these carelessly disregarded leaves infringe on my personal safety? Of course not. But do I think that council could easily tweak or create a new ordinance in order to relieve a hardship on a citizen of Ft. Thomas? Absolutely.

I suggested that the city review the sustainability of an ordinance that would prohibit citizens from putting yard debris in the street without some type of regard to the leaf pickup schedule.

Of course I wanted the city to take this request seriously, and hopefully they did, but more than anything, I wanted to see how efficient they could be when handling a citizen's problem.

Below is a timeline of correspondence between myself and the City of Fort Thomas.

10/27/10 - Phone call placed to Ralph Hopper, General Services.
Result: Directed me to Don Martin, City Administrative Officer.

10/27/10 - Email to Martin. Explained my problem, offered possible solution.

10/28/10 - Martin responds to email.

He let me know that the proposed ordinance may have merit. He would bring up the proposal at the appropriate council meeting to get their thoughts.

11/15/10 - City Council meeting.

Talked to some council members as well as Martin. I was informed that the committee who would hear the proposed ordinance (Public Works Committee - Eric Haas, Chair; Tom Lampe, member) had not yet met.

Martin also let me know to call if there is an extreme excess of leaves and if the city workers had extra time, they would come by.

12/7/10 - Martin responds to reveal the discussion by the Public Works Committee on the proposed ordinance. See email below:

See transcript below:

After reviewing the leaf collection schedule and the operations method for leaf collection, the committee feels that such an ordinance would hamper the city's efforts. The crews regularly will finish the scheduled leaf collection route a little early each day. This allows them to pick up leaves that are not scheduled for pick-up. This helps to allow our crews to remain on schedule. Additionally, most folks like to rake leaves on the weekends. If they are scheduled for collection on a Friday, they may not be able to rake leaves during the week. The current operational methods allow property owners the flexibility to rake on the weekends.

So there you go. It took about a month and a half to get an answer to my question. Obviously, it didn't turn out favorably for me, but overall I was pleased with the communication and efficiency in our local government. I still think there may be a different solution, but I'll get to that at a later date.

Has anyone else had experience (good/bad/indifferent) with trying to get council to hear their pleas?


  1. ok, this is way late to comment on this but the whole leaving leaves in the gutters on the street drives my husband (and me) nuts! Leaves make excellent mulch compost. Left on the lawn, one can mow over them with lawn mower and they break down and provide nutrients to soil, especially our stressed lawns from past summer's drought. They also are great mulch in garden bed.. we have a leaf mulcher we bought many years ago and my husband would rake leaves and put them through the mulcher, collect that and then distributon the flower beds. Over the years, they have really improved the hard clay soil. The leaves are such a wonderful resource and people don't even realize what they have!
    Might I add a gripe I have on this, and that is the noisy annoying leaf blowers.

  2. I believe the city mulches the leaves, as well.. and provides that mulch to others...

    Someone correct me if I'm wrong..

    I do know that there are plenty of houses in Ft Thomas that have so many leaves, they could never use all the mulch, or disperse them into the lawn without killing it.