Litter law details irk boro residents

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Just weeks after the city unveiled its rules and regulations for lawn litter — be it fliers, advertisements, ad circulars or restaurant menus — at least one Queens resident is unimpressed with the plan.

Under the city version of a state law authored by state Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose), residents can fight the distribution of unwanted advertising on their property, but some say it is too much trouble.

The state law asks that owners also make clear their aversion to fliers by posting a 5-by-7-inch sign on their property, stating in inch-high letters "Do Not Place Unsolicited Advertising Materials On This Property."

But the city rules stipulate that in order to keep property litter-free, owners filing a complaint must fill out and sign an affidavit form, have it notarized, submit the paperwork along with the unsolicited advertisement left on the property to the city Sanitation Department and be available to attend a hearing on the matter.

The city law sets fines for disobeying the signs at between $250 and $1,000, to be administered by the Sanitation Department.

Kew Gardens Civic Association Executive Chairman Murray Berger called the rules "asinine."

"The complaining homeowner has to fill out a form and get it notarized before mailing it to Sanitation. Even the Internal Revenue Service doesn't require notarizing your taxes — it's asinine," Berger said. "There should be no need to notarize. And [the city] should authorize the police to give tickets if they see people distributing litter."

Berger said he was the only civilian to testify at a hearing last week about the lawn litter law.

Padavan's office said the state version of the law sets parameters for signage, but leaves the implementation and fines up to the city. In a letter he sent to the hearing, the senator also criticized the requirement to notarize complaint forms, his office said.

Padavan wrote to the Sanitation Department that "the requirement of a notarized complaint in the first instance may well discourage citizens to file complaints," and asked that the rule be deleted.

City Councilman James Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows), the Environmental Protection Committee chairman, offered a solution that would do away with not just the notarizing, but the form itself.

"In order to make the lawn litter law more practical and useful for New Yorkers — property owners and renters alike — complaints should be taken over the phone at the 311 Call Center... then the Department of Sanitation should send an inspector to observe both the lawn litter and the sign posted by the homeowner," Gennaro wrote in a letter to the Sanitation Department.

It is not clear whether or when the Sanitation Department may make any of the suggested changes.

Posted 6:39 pm, October 10, 2011
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