Saturday, December 6, 2003

Raking leaves isn't a legal responsibility

By Dave Hofmeister
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Question: What legal responsibility, if any, do homeowners in Cincinnati have to rake up the leaves that fall on their property and on the sidewalks?

I have noticed that people neglect to rake their leaves and just let them blow into the street and onto other people's properties rather than raking them up. Often the storm drains are totally covered. With the threatened cessation of free yard waste collection, I imagine this problem will only get worse.

Sheryl Pockrose, West Price Hill

Answer: Like the birds of the air, the leaves on those trees are free to fly (or blow) wherever they please - and once on the ground, they are no one's legal responsibility.

That's the word from Meg Olberding, communications officer for the city of Cincinnati.

Yes, raking leaves (especially soggy ones) is a nuisance, but it's also good exercise, and for kids, a chance to make a few bucks. Some people consider it a moral obligation, but not everyone.

About the only circumstance that could lead to criminal charges would be if the leaves piled up so high that they posed a health problem or became a fire hazard. But even then, it would have to be an egregious case, said Melanie Reising, senior assistant prosecutor for the city of Cincinnati.

No decision has been made as yet on ending the free removal of yard waste in Cincinnati. If that happens, you could be stuck with paying a fee, but you also could consider starting a mulch pile if you have the space.

Q. We moved to Loveland six months ago from North Carolina. We are enjoying the community and are pleased with the schools. We don't understand, however, why this thriving community doesn't have a YMCA? Nearby communities, such as Blue Ash and Lebanon, have great facilities. Can you please let us know why this is?

Leigh and Coit Edison, Loveland

A. More than two years ago, the YMCA of Greater Cincinnati proposed building a Y in Loveland's Phillips Park. However, some residents opposed the plans, and formed a group known as Friends of Phillips Park. They complained about the noise, traffic and other problems they thought the Y would bring.

Faced with those complaints and fund-raising problems, Y officials decided in January 2002 to drop plans for a Y in Loveland. Barbara Hauser, director of communications for the YMCA of Greater Cincinnati, confirmed this week that the Y has no plans to build in the area.

The good news, though, is that the Countryside YMCA in Lebanon - which has the country's largest YMCA building - is working with Deerfield Township trustees to find a location for a Y in the township.

Steve Boland, Countryside's president and CEO, said the ideal location would be along Montgomery Road in the southern section of the township.

He emphasized that community support is essential for a new Y, which could serve as a focal point for the area. If the support is there, and planning, site acquisition and fund-raising go smoothly, he said, a Y could open in the area by the end of 2005.

Do you have a question about a community issue? We'll get the answer. E-mail or fax your question to Dave Hofmeister at (513) 755-4150. He also can be reached at 755-4145. A selection of the best questions will be answered in this column every Saturday.

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