Dear Editor,

No one is pro-litter, right?

In recent months, I have taken to picking up litter with my handy tweezer -like picker.

Why do some people think it’s acceptable to throw debris from their car windows? Is it to keep their car interiors clean? I don’t get it. Especially since along Route 58 there is a dumpster behind every store. Laziness perhaps?

The majority of the litter I find are containers from fast food places, cigarette butts and masks. Along Roanoke and Route 58 there are pieces of cars; tail lights, hoses etc. The beaches have a more “interesting” collection of items, from personal hygiene products and clothing to beer cans.

The Town of Riverhead has codes and fines that address litter, but you wouldn’t know it. The code makes it illegal to throw litter from a vehicle and the owner of the vehicle responsible for the offense. The code also requires private property owners to keep their properties, including the sidewalks in front of their properties, free of litter.

Are the absentee landlords aware of this?

Owners of shopping centers, retail stores, restaurants, commercial establishments and office complexes are required by the code to keep walkways, parking areas, landscape and curbsides clean and free of litter and all debris.

Really? Are the businesses aware of this?

On Route 58, which is a Suffolk County road, most of the stores and parking lots are leased to retailers. I’m assuming that these rental/leased properties have property managers. According to the town code, the owners are responsible for keeping the parking lots clean. From looking at the tax map, I discovered that a high percentage of owners are distant companies who could probably care less about how the town looks. Yet I wonder how the retailers leasing the space view the litter surrounding their establishments in terms of branding. Not a good look.

There aren’t enough code enforcement officers to address the complaints. To make a complaint, one has to fill out the form online. They will get to it in about a month from when it was submitted.

The fines are woefully inadequate.

For private property owners and owners of vehicles: a fine of $50 to $1,000.

For commercial establishments: a minimum of $250 for the first offense within a period of 18 months; $500 for the second offense; and $1,000 for any succeeding offense within the same 18-month period.

It could be years before the issue could be addressed in an adequate fashion.

If you’re worried about revenue for the Town of Riverhead, this could be a gold mine; and we would end up with a cleaner town.

Jeanne Raso

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Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.