Thinking about leaving your leaves at the curb in Southampton? Think again.
Thinking about leaving your leaves at the curb in Southampton? Think again.

If you think leaving your unbagged leaves in town right-of-ways in Southampton is a good way of letting the town know your displeasure with their new leaf-bagging law, now might be a good time to rethink this act of civil disobedience, which could become very expensive in the near future.

Spurred on by Town Councilman Brad Bender, Southampton Highway Superintendent Alex Gregor has proposed a new law that would fine residents up to $5,000 or put them in jail for up to six months if they don’t bag their leaves or find some other way to get rid of them.

Mr. Bender and Mr. Gregor laid out their plan at a public hearing April 22. Mr. Bender said members of community groups often complain to him about leaves that are left in the town right-of-way outside their houses.

Mr. Bender said, if the law is passed, leaf scofflaws will be given a warning and then a notice of violation if they leave loose leaves at the curb this year, but in 2015 they will be levied a fine of up to $1,000 or 15 days in jail for a first offense for leaving their leaves a the curb, and a fine of up to $5,000 or six months in jail, or both, for subsequent offenses.

Mr. Gregor’s program, begun in 2012, has saved the town $5.4 million in labor and equipment costs for the town’s spring and fall clean-ups, said Mr. Bender at the hearing. The highway department gives a waiver to senior citizens and people with medical circumstances that make it difficult for them to bag leaves.

Mr. Gregor said in the event of a hurricane or other disaster, the town can waive the leaf-bagging requirement. He added that he thinks people in Southampton are much luckier than in East Hampton, which completely axed its leaf pickup program several years ago due to budget cuts.

Two residents of East Quogue said at the public hearing that they were in favor of the stiffer fines.

“Last year was confusion, and as a consequence, a lot of stuff got left out there. It was a mess,” said George Lynch. “But people on my street aren’t stupid and the cleanup rules aren’t that difficult to understand. It’s willful ignorance. There’s nothing for clearing up that sort of confusion like the prospect of paying a stiff fine.”

East Quogue Citizens Advisory Committee Chairwoman Joan Hughes agreed. She said people in her neighborhood are enthusiastic about the bagged leaf program.

“For many years, we had a problem with leaves in the street, but now that problem has almost completely disappeared,” she said.

The board closed the public hearing with a ten day written comment period but has not yet adopted the changes.

Beth Young
Beth Young is an award-winning local journalist who has been covering the East End since the 1990s. She began her career at the Sag Harbor Express and, after receiving her Masters from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, has reported for the Southampton Press, the East Hampton Press and the Times/Review Media Group. She founded the East End Beacon website in 2013, and a print edition in 2017. Beth was born and raised on the North Fork. In her spare time, she tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at

2 thoughts on “Southampton Goes After Leafpile Scofflaws

  1. Stop controlling nature. Leave us alone Mr. Gregor and the board. There must be something better for you to do than control leaves. Leave the people alone.

  2. McGregor has spent a fortune putting up signs….far too many signs, everywhere we turn there signs; it is over the top, unsightly now. Stop already, with the sign and leaf mania. Stick to paving roads where his men do a great job.Those of us who have modest properties (under 1/2 acre) are encouraged to save our trees, but big old trees have a LOT of leaves, it is difficult for seniors (those not yet 72) to move so many. Getting leaves to the street was difficult but do-able a few hours each day for a two or three weeks. Bagging leaves in full allergy season is dangerous to those with bad allergies and for me at least (female) an impossible task. why can;t they simply charge those of us who cannot do this a reasonable fee instead of the landscapers really scalping us!!!!! My cost in fall $800+. YEP, that’s right!

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