SMITHTOWN, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Trees, trees, everywhere.

Residents in one Long Island town are sprucing up their yards, but in the process are making life extremely difficult for municipal workers. Now, local government is trying to put a stop to it, CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported Monday.

It’s an obstacle course for Brandon and Cooper Gribbin of Smithtown.

“I’m lucky enough and my wife to be able to work from home, so it gave us more time to tend to the yard, do some different projects,” father Matt Gribbin said.

The Gribbins will use their lumber for firewood, and the mulch for their gardens. All of it is stored on their lawn.

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But around the corner and down nearly every block here, it’s a different story.

Families staying home due to COVID-19 are cutting trees and clearing heavy branches with abandon, or hiring tree-trimming companies, many of which are simply hauling the stumps into the street and leaving them for inundated town workers.

Proper disposal costs can run hundreds to thousands of dollars.

“They are actually indicating to the resident that they can save them money by throwing it out in the road instead of removing it. And, again, that is a code violation in Smithtown,” town Supervisor Edward Wehrheim said.

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McLogan attempted to speak to one family, but they did not want to explain the nearly 100-foot long street-side pile of logs cleared from their yard, that neighborhood children “scooter” by.

“The taxpayer should not have to pay for that,” one resident said.

“Nobody likes to pay taxes for somebody else’s mess,” another added.

Smithtown is one of a few Long Island municipalities to offer leaves and brush curbside pickup. Already, that volume has increased 65% during the pandemic. Now, adding tree removal is turning out to be too overwhelming.

But some others believe that is what their taxes should be for.

“Someone cuts down a tree and they leave it there, let the town come with their truck and their equipment and take it away,” homeowner Enzo Saulle said.

Smithtown officials are contemplating legislation that would impose a $500 fine on companies that don’t finish the job and clean up the trees.

“Because of this uptick in that debris in the road, we are looking at our code, to change it,” Wehrheim said.

The supervisor said tax money should be spent on roads, sidewalks and curbs, not as a carting company for a tree company or homeowner.


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