By Chief Steven J. Wojnar
Dudley Police Department
Spring has many people cleaning up their yards and driveways from the leaves, sticks, etc. that came down during the winter. It is crucial to gather and dispose of this waste properly, as well as keep it out of the road. I often receive complaints about this and wanted to remind everyone of this issue.
Whenever people deposit yard waste, dirt, or other material from their property onto the road, or that of another person, problems can arise. Several state and local laws may apply in these instances. One of the more serious state laws covers illegal dumping of “trash” which is found under Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 270 Section 16. Although this law may only appear to apply to “litter,” it is somewhat all encompassing. It includes items such as "trash, bottles, cans, refuse, rubbish, garbage, debris, scrap, waste, or other material of any kind." Even though yard waste may not be specifically mentioned, it could apply in these cases. Penalties and fines are particularly steep. First offense fines can be up to $5,000 and second or subsequent fines can be as high as $15,000. In addition, people can be responsible for cost of the cleanup or removal.
Another violation could fall under Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 266 Section 35 entitled "Throwing or Dropping Objects onto Any Way." It states in part, "Whoever willfully or negligently drops, throws or otherwise releases any object, missile or other article onto any way...so that the lives or safety of the public may be endangered..." . Even though this section generally applies to act of the throwing of objects such as bottles, rocks, snowballs, etc. it may be applicable when it comes to the use of a leaf blower. Intentionally blowing debris into the roadway may be included if, the act in any way, endangers the lives or safety of the public. This will certainly be determined on a case-by-case basis. People in violation of this law could be punished by a fine of up to one hundred dollars and or a maximum of up to one year in prison.
Whenever people blow debris or deposit things on the road, it can be dangerous. People may be injured by flying objects. Property, including cars, can also be damaged. Road debris is particularly dangerous for those riding motorcycles and bicycles. Always be aware of anything you are pushing out toward the road. If something does go into the street, it will be your obligation to clean it up. Your assistance is important toward preventing accidents and injuries as well as keeping our streets clean.
For those still seeking COVID-19 vaccination or other information, it can be found at www.dudleyma.gov or by calling 508-949-8036. We encourage everyone to continue to be safe. Your cooperation is greatly appreciated. These times continue to be challenging and we, at the Dudley Police Department, greatly appreciate the support we receive from our community.
Thanks again for your questions and comments. Please send them to me at the Dudley Police Department 71 West Main St. Dudley, MA. 01571 or email at email@example.com. Opinions expressed in this weekly column are those of Chief Wojnar only and unless clearly noted, do not reflect the ideas or opinions of any other organization or citizen.