During Spring Town Meeting this year, the town voted to allow municipal authority to impose liens for encroachment. Put more simply, if you dump your leaves on town property, you may be hearing from the Natural Resources Commission (NRC).
The Commission is beginning education about the new rules and what they mean for fall clean-up. Encroachment usually refers to planting or building things in the setback areas or beyond the property lines. However, yard waste such as fallen leaves and twigs is considered "dumping encroachment."
"When a landscaper or you get leaves from your yard, you're not going to dump them on your neighbor's property," NRC Chair Ursula King told Patch. "We're asking for the same respect for the town."
The NRC is receiving more reports of encroachments at the edges of town forests or along trails as the leaves are beginning to turn and fall. In one case King mentioned, there were three-and-a-half-foot piles of leaves around the property perimeter.
One of the common threads in encroachment reports is that the residents were not aware of their property boundaries. For home owners considering planting, King encourages hiring a surveyoy to examine the property beforehand.
"People are responsible for knowing where the boundaries are," King adds.
Wellesley residents can dispose of leaves and waste at the Recycling and Disposal facility, however private landscapers may need to dispose of waste another way.
Part of the NRC's mission statement is to preserve the town for future generations, as stewards for the town's natural resources. Enforcing encroachments like this helps the Commission by preserving the boundaries of town land. Many plants used in yards and horticulture are also simply not healthy in conservation areas--such as the forests in Wellesley.
While the Mass. General Laws allow municipalities to require residents to remove or pay for encroachment, Wellesley's NRC hopes to work with residents to come up with solutions instead of acting on those penalties.