Leaf It Alone!

Alert — and displeased — “06880” reader Carl Swanson writes:

Westport is beginning to sound like a war zone, with high- powered leaf blowers polluting the air nearly every day and all daylight hours.

Greenwich and Ridgefield have restricted their use. Fifteen states have put restrictions on the noise makers.

Our entire street (off North Avenue) was awakened on Sunday morning at 7 a.m. to a neighbor’s lawn crew. There were 4 leaf blowers in use, working on a lawn for nearly 2 hours. Noise pollution.

What about the good ol Wonder Years days, when we raked the damn leaves but then got to burn them!

Carl is not alone. Emily Cooper graduated from Staples High School in 2011, a few decades after Carl. She returned to Westport after 5 years in Manhattan, to wait out the pandemic. She writes:

While I know bigger concerns weigh on most townspeople, over the last 8 months here I’ve been at points surprised, frustrated and saddened to realize that the peace and solace of the “country” is continually marred by incessant lawn and construction noise.

Particularly, now that many of us spend significant time working from home, we are treated daily, from early each morning through late in the evening, to noise from leaf blowers, lawn-mowers, tree choppers and and rock grinders.

I’ve read that nearby towns, notably Larchmont, passed a ban on leaf blowers. Even towns that permit use appear to have more stringent noise ordinances.

I contacted 1st Selectman Jim Marpe on the issue. He said it was a matter for the RTM. I spoke with one of my District 7 reps, who said a petition with 20 signatures would require bringing the matter to RTM attention.

Even if not a full ban on leaf blowers (which, in addition to the noise, create environmental damage), a few points of improvement could be limiting the hours further, and prohibiting construction on Sunday or the entire weekend.

81 responses to “Leaf It Alone!

  1. It’s not only noise pollution….those 2 cycle blower engines are many times worse for the atmosphere than a readily available 4 cycle, quieter blower OR, of course, the 56 volt EGO battery powered….but of course, in town , there is only one guy who “blows green” and NO landscaper who cares enough to go for the 4 cycle, gas blowers. Only when property owners get together and demand quieter, more global friendly equipment, will there be a quieter, healthy fall and spring in town.

  2. Andrew Colabella

    I think Mr. Swanson should contact Valerie Seiling Jacob’s, (valerieseilingjacobs@gmail.com) as she has invested a lot of time already into this subject, and even written an ordinance.

    Also, feel free to write to your representatives: RtmMailingList@westportct.gov

  3. Could not agree more that leaf blowers are awful — their use should at least be limited to narrow and civil times of day — and banned on weekends!

  4. Tricia Freeman

    How do I sign the petition? This drives me crazy!!!

  5. Kristin Schneeman

    In addition to a petition signed by 20 electors, an ordinance can be proposed by at least 2 members of the RTM. I can attest there is interest on the RTM in moving forward with an effort to restrict use of gas-powered leaf blowers with two-cycle engines. This has already taken place in other communities not only in CT and NY but in hundreds across the country. These machines are incredible sources of air and noise pollution, harmful to the health of the workers who use them, and destructive of our natural environment – and not necessary! Stay tuned, and I hope residents will share their views with their representatives.

    – Kristin Schneeman, Member, RTM District 9

  6. Lorraine Harrison

    Beside noise polution, there is air polution. How can I get involved? I would love to sign a petition and attend a meeting to support legislation. tthere are battery operated leaf blowers.. there are electrical leaf blowers…Last year I was Downtown before 8AM and the Town had 5 workers blowing leaves that were not there for 30 minutes. That was their job so they blew and blew. They had nothing else to do. Maybe they can come to the Town Green opposite my house on OLd Hill, and clean up the debris that has been there for a year.. THe Town workers told me it was just their job to mow and that the residents should clean it up.

  7. Thanks, Dan. As many people may not know, the issues with gas powered leaf blowers extends way beyond the infernal noise. In addition to that, they spew dangerous carcinogens such as benzenes, and also blow particulate matter, including animal feces, into the air we breathe. Enough!

    • the tailpipe emissions of benzene are no different from a 2 stroke engine than they are from your gasoline powered car. furthermore, most gasoline has less than 1% benzene (by volume) in it and is usually lower than that.

      • I think you are incorrect. “Unlike the developed nations’ larger but much more efficient auto­mobiles, which use four-stroke engines, two-stroke vehicles spew great volumes of dangerous hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, and smoke. A single two-stroke engine produces pollution equivalent to that of 30 to 50 four-stroke automobiles.” Discover Magazine, May 20, 2008. I don’t think the science has changed, if at all, since 2008, other than to increase the level of pollution controls on 4-stroke engines.

  8. I couldn’t agree more. After months of similar frustration, including a large mobile leaf blower parked under my window for two hours, spewing exhaust into my home and triggering a migraine, I indeed wrote my RTM representatives. We don’t let cars idle due to the damaging fumes. Why is this ok? Depending of landscapers’ schedules some neighborhoods are noisy and fume- filled most days. Help! Please curtail this blight!
    Thanks, Dan, for highlighting the issue

  9. An earlier post indicated Valerie Seiling Jacobs has been working on this for awhile, but failed to mention that this is an topic under her leadership along with Ian Warburg at SaveWestportNow. So I would suggest concentrating the effort in conjunction with them. Here is the web page for contacting SaveWestportNow.


    Art Schoeller
    Greens Farms Association

  10. Valerie Jacobs

    It’s not just the noise–which, by the way, affects hearing and learning in children. These machines spew fine particulates which pass right through lung tissue and into the blood stream and which have been linked to lung cancer and other pulmonary problems–including poorer outcomes from COVID. They also destroy insect and wildlife habitats.More than 200 towns across the country have already acted. Westport needs to do something fast.
    Please email me if you agree: valerieseilingjacobs@gmail.com

  11. Abbey Nayor MacDonell

    Yay!! I couldn’t agree more. Thanks for sharing, Dan. I’m going to assist however we can. The noise has made it so we can’t enjoy our home It’s unrelenting 👍👍

  12. Prohibiting all construction on the weekend would be terrible for those that have jobs M-F and want to do construction on their own property when they are off work.

  13. Nancie Rinaldi

    I could not agree more. I detest the noise and pollution these machines cause. I feel assaulted by them and feel my stress level increase dramatically when I hear them roar to life. We work from home and are assaulted daily by the terrible racked they create. From early morning until late in the afternoon 7 days a week someone in our neighborhood is either using one or has a lawn service doing work on their property. There should be a timeframe during which they are allowed to be operated and be banned altogether on Sundays. I will gladly add my name to a petition and will reach out the the RTM and Valerie Jacobs.

  14. Gloria Gouveia

    Mr. Katz is right. The best way to solve a problem of this magnitude is to do so at the source: the manufacturers of the noisy & noxious equipment.

    In the meantime, bear in mind that the strictest of ordinances will not apply to emergencies i.e. the days or even weeks following a major storm event and the necessary removal of trees and tree limbs left in its wake.

    And how many of those have we experienced this year alone?

  15. There is a simple, less noisy, less polluting way to handle leaf removal in the fall. If you run a mulching mower through leaves, you create a nice, organic fertilizer for your lawn. You can also move the mulch into gardens and flower beds. There are electric mulching mowers that don’t make as much noise and are easy to use (and nice exercise should you do it yourself).

    • Exactly. We had one of these when I was still able to cut the lawn.

      In any case, if other towns have successfully passed restrictions on leaf blowers, I see no reason why Westport can’t do the same. Count us in.

  16. Peter Gold, Member, RTM District 5

    For what it’s worth with regard to the construction noise comment, the Town already has a noise ordinance. See:

    Sec. 42-22. – Hours prohibition for construction, repair work.

    Except in cases of emergency, construction or repair work that is accompanied by noise shall be prohibited within the Town between the hours of 8:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. on weekdays, and between the hours of 8:00 p.m. and 9:00 a.m. on Saturdays, Sundays and legal holidays.

    In addition to doing something about hte noise from leaf blowers, perhaps the noise ordinance could also be amended to prohibit construction noise before say 8 am during the week instead of 7 am.

    • how does that work when the time changes and days get shorter? seems unfair.

      • You sure know how to come up with silly comments.

        Time-based regulations are “unfair” because days get shorter?

        Pretend to be serious.

    • Dear Mr. Gold: Does Sec 42-22 apply to gardening equipment like leaf blowers and lawn mowers? The ordinance identifies construction and repair work. Does gardening equipment fall under construction and repair work? Thanks.

  17. Michael Calise

    These machines are incredibly wasteful and destructive. As mentioned above they are frequently used to accomplish nothing but to satisfy the sense of accomplishment for the user.

  18. The proliferation of gas-powered “jet pack” leaf blowers is a relatively new phenomenon, as is the expectation many homeowners have to have with respect to having leaf and grass-clipping free properties, especially in communities like ours.

    While the pristine aesthetic has evolved over the past few decades years to become the expected norm, the high price we pay, in terms of our community’s health, is far too high.

    As the science shows, the noise and air pollution caused by the use of these machines (especially when used in multiples simultaneously by professional teams), is significant, and simply unacceptable. As has been noted by others above, hundreds of communities across the country are taking steps to dramatically reduce, or eliminate, the use of these harmful machines via the implementation of rules and ordinances which govern their use.

    In light of the many comments here, I’m hopeful that Westport will lead the way in Fairfield County, and in the State of Connecticut, in crafting rules of our own to improve the quality of our lives, and protect the health of those who live and work here.

    As others have suggested, please be sure to contact your RTM representatives. Also, please contact Valerie Seiling Jacobs, a committed resident who is leading the charge on addressing this important issue: valerieseilingjacobs@gmail.com

    • new? you are kidding, right? i remember them when i was a kid. except people weren’t whining and complaining about things left and right.

  19. People just love having something to complain about.

    • And people who like to complain about others complaining.

    • I feel like I’m watching a, Curb Your Enthusiasm episode! Leaf blower noise, restaurants closing at 9:30pm….oy vey!

      • James, I’m assuming from your chain of comments on every kind of post, you are one of those dopey libertarians who thinks every restriction is an attack on your freedom.

        When the actions of some disrupt the lives of others, it is, at the very least, reasonable to scrutinize those actions.

        • we have way bigger issues to worry about than leaf blowers. there is a pandemic that is only getting worse and worse. lets maybe focus on that instead of leaf blowers??? because i can tell you with certainty the virus is disrupting the lives of many, causing illness, permanent injury, death, etc.

          • Josh, I am certainly taking the virus seriously. But I can walk and chew gum at the same time. I’m sure many that are concerned about noise are also concerned about COVID.

            If you think that there are pandemic policies that can/should be set at the local level, you should suggest them!

        • Hi Chris, actually this topic/posts is providing me much humor today. Like a ‘Curb’ episode. But I’m with joshua below, seeing the hills our citizens choose to die on provides at least to me, a brief respite that allows me to sit back and laugh. Carry on my SJW! Scrutinize away!

          • Let’s be honest, James. Nobody is “dying on that hill.” People are expressing a concern that you disagree with. You’re simply being passive-aggressive in expressing that disagreement.

            • Hi Chris, I don’t disagree with the concern at all, I do agree in some aspects, but it seems a bit over the top. I also find humor in the ‘drama’ expressed in some of these posts and the physical & mental anguish experienced. That drama is what makes me laugh. I’m pretty sure leaf blowers & landscapers have been around Westport before 2020, it just seems like individuals want to get on a soapbox these on make themselves heard, and lord knows we’ve had enough of that this year.

              Enjoy your evening.

  20. Carl Addison Swanson

    While growing up here, I went to law school and practiced law in Texas until returning here decades past. I do NOT understand the various ordinances in town for, apparently, there is NO concept of “disturbing the peace.” Any calls to the police regarding loud music during the day time are dismissed with “we can not do anything until 10:00 p.m..” Huh? Construction sites are allowed also to blast their music however loud they wish. As such and while I applaud the efforts of Ms. Jacobs, I see no change in the constant weed wacker growl forthcoming. Perhaps when they slow down the traffic around our schools on North Avenue???

  21. HORRENDOUS. As anyone who knows me knows, I have been harping about this for years. Surely this town can come up with a plan that allows for these people to make a living, while also putting some restrictions in place — no weekends, only 1p to 5p allowed, only mon/wed/fri, SOMETHING! — that can allow local residents some sense of peace and quiet, and not spend every day cursing the deafening blast that has become as much a part of westport life as the long starbucks line on the post road.

  22. As Peter Gold said, Westport already has a noise ordinance; it’s up to people to hold their yard workers to it. As Dan Katz noted, the issue is no so much with the use engines are put to, but rather with the types of engines used in the equipment. As Susan Farewell said, mulching mowers are good for lawns (but also use engines). Lawn mowers and tree equipment would also have to be included with regard to emissions to be serious about this.

    Another issue to keep in mind these days is the economy, which has of course disproportionately affected lower income individuals. Is this the time to ask them to invest in expensive new equipment – and what could we do to mitigate the consequences of this.

    The RTM has intermittently received complaints about leaf blowers. The response, as noted above, is that to do more than just complain, the simultaneous first steps are to research and collect a body of valid information – documented science – about the environmental/health effects of leaf blowers. Other relevant information would include restraint of trade law effects, the ability of the RTM to regulate what individuals do on their private property (in general it can only regulate town activity on public lands), any financial consequences, and so on. Then as noted above, an individual would write a “resolution” setting forth the issue, include it on a petition (form from the Town Clerk) have it signed by at least 20 voters (or have 2 RTM members petition with the above documented research) and submit it to the Town Clerk. That would then go to the RTM moderator and be on its way This process has been suggested to several people but nothing has been sent in (as far as I know).

    An alternative would be simply to submit a petition to change the allowed hours of work now included in the noise ordinance. (All ordinances can be seen via the town website).

  23. completely agree that we should (1) restrict noise pollution to more sociable hours and (2) encourage the use of electric powered blowers. Will sign any petition that proposes solutions like that

  24. Tessa Smith McGovern

    Couldn’t agree more.

  25. Eric Buchroeder SHS ‘70

    I spent my childhood as the only male in the household (and with a sister who never lifted a finger unless it was to grab an eating utensil) raking leaves in Westport. At first, burning them was no problem and everybody seemed to welcome the smell as a fall tradition. OK, so that went by the wayside but leaves make great compost as has been said and making a pile and then jumping in them makes good memories. With an obese population, children stuck at home and sedentary lifestyles accelerating our mortality, maybe picking up a rake could be viewed as a form of protest. Pass the ordinances by all means, but the best way to protest and to get things done quickly is to DIY.

    • My memories exactly. Sunday afternoons raking, jumping then burning. Never forgot that smokey smell of autumn. Today the burning would be considered toxic but I still miss that smell every fall!

  26. For the last two years, we have banned leaf blowers from our property except to clear out gutters twice a year. We take and snow shovel debris off the driveway. After the last mowing for the year, the wind blows remaining leaves into the bushes and garden. That way we are limiting air pollution, noise destructive to hearing, unhealthy compaction to soil and destruction of insect life that is essential to birds.

    It has become the fashion to create yards that look like golf courses. In doing so, we are creating green cement that is inhospitable to animal life, insect life and to human life.
    Joanne Leaman

  27. Nathaniel Martin

    This is a well intentioned discussion but it’s important to be clear on the facts and confront the realities of the situation. What folks hear and are annoyed by are commercial lawn services that have crews of 3-4 guys all with backpack blowers, push blowers and a truck mounted leaf vacuums. These machines running simultaneously are what people hear, which is a far cry from individual homeowners with a single and much smaller handheld blower. The lawn services also almost always haul away the leaves, rather than compost them at people’s homes, which also causes air pollution and deprives the local ecosystem of an important resource. Composting onsite (which I do, and is extremely easy, but is still unfortunately very uncommon) would be an excellent start. As would taking a pass on pesticide and fertilizer treatments, most of which ends up in the Sound.

    Also important to note is that gasoline powered backpack and handheld blowers are always 2 cycle because they are much lighter engines and spin much faster. Push blowers, leaf vacuums, etc. are always 4 cycle engines. It’s also important to note that lawn crews work full days and go from house to house, and need to be able to refuel their machines during the day. Requiring them to use rechargeable blowers is impractical. Even the best electric backpack blowers (ie EGO) have a runtime of only 180 minutes. I don’t think anyone sees the wisdom in lawn crews idling their diesel pickups to charge their electric blowers. Banning gasoline powered leaf blowers for commercial use is not practical, and would lead to lawn services significantly increasing their prices due to the additional labor, new equipment and charging logistics. And of course banning leaf blowers for homeowners would be unduly burdsonsome and of course wouldn’t solve the stated noise problem.

    It is also important to keep the emissions in perspective. Modern 2 cycle engines and oil additives have improved significantly since the old ‘blue smoke’ engines you may remember from the 70s and 80s. That being said, due to their design and because they lack a lubrication system, they emit significantly more particulates and NOx than comparable 4 cycle engines. However they also use extremely small amounts of gasoline and operate for relatively short periods, compared to the significantly higher consumption rate and operation time in an automobile. So in other words, the hundreds of gallons of gasoline necessary to operate a Range Rover or Suburban for a year, or thousands of gallons of heating oil to heat a large home for the winter, has a significantly higher impact on global warming and local air quality than the half a gallon of fuel used in a leaf blower for an entire year. Plus, an electric leaf blower is only green if it is charged with renewable energy, otherwise the emissions are just transfered to the fossil fuel power plant.

    I’m a big environmentalist, which is why I encourage a thoughtful fact based discussion on genuine environmental threats, not just the loudest leaf blower that grabs everyone’s attention. Focusing on red herring environmental issues distracts attention and energy away from genuine environmental threats facing our community and our planet.

  28. I preformed a Zoom comedic set on leaf blowers last Saturday at the visual Ridgefield Playhouse. Enjoy…

    Quiet, sunny morning, birds chirping in the distance, getting ready for a zoom call with friends
    and then I hear the truck pull up at the neighbors – Thermo Nuclear Lawn Service

    I hate leaf blowers

    The noise – their cheesy 2 cycle motors
    making more noise than a two ton Ford pickup and spewing fumes

    I get the purpose – to remove leaves – but isn’t this like the old saw of using a chainsaw to cut butter

    Look, I’m a very reasonable guy, and I used to be OK with the fall cleanup, a once a year assault on my senses.
    Now my neighbors have Fall cleanups every week for the entire fall season. I’m at my limit.

    We have been sold a bill of goods by the lawn care military industrial complex.

    Environmental organizations point out that fall leaves provide shelter for small creatures and nutrients for the soil.

    Middle ground isn’t easy to find. So in the spirit of compromise I have worked to deconstruct the leaf blower in the hope of finding better solutions.

    I’m talking to you homeowners, whether you or your lawn service do your yard, Remember you are in charge.

    Here are a few easy steps:
    Consider that falling leaves are a beautiful experience, not a moral failure.

    Don’t clean every week, less often is fine, it’s Fall.

    Don’t attack every leaf as if it’s your last chance since thousands of leaves are still on the trees ready to fall.

    And here is our breakthrough, announcing … The Rake

    While the leaf blower creates an
    eardrum destroying, mind numbing and soul crunching roar…

    The Rake is quiet, producing a modest amount of soothing sound, almost a meditative experience

    The Rake is carbon neutral not relying on irreplaceable fossil fuels

    The Rake provides… exercise like the ones that you used to do in your now shuttered gym with the added benefit of being outside in fresh air

    The Rake is flexible, it can be used alone or in small groups of family and friends.

    To promote our brand new product we are pursuing two avenues:

    – our mainstream approach – The Rake, and call to action tagline Just rake it

    – or the underground guerrilla shame blame game

    When you see your neighbors proudly standing by their particle free yard…

    Cheerfully call out – Nice blow job!

  29. Jill Totenberg

    The pollution is not only noise, its environmental. Scientific research shows the disturbing of the top soil increases the likelihood of covid; it also destroys the environment. If nothing else, electric blowers vs. gas.

    • “Scientific research shows the disturbing of the top soil increases the likelihood of covid” hahahahahahahahahahahaha

  30. While I agree with most comments above on noise and unhealthy side effects of leaf blowers they are a necessary evil.
    I had my mom visiting a few years ago from Ireland and she’s a very nimble fit lady. She walked down my driveway to pick up the mail. She slipped on wet leaves and most unfortunately broke her wrist

    I just yesterday read an article about a 22 year old woman who slipped on leaves last week and snapped a vertebra clean break. She will never walk again, so leaves are a very large curse. As are the blowers.

    As for construction noise, we must be patient as we all contributed at one point or another to it whether it was getting our roof replaced or building a garage or just building the homes we live in.

    Covid has brought us few blessings but one thing it’s meant is that we’ve had a huge number of folks move here from cities like manhattan..

    We’ve got to expect some renovations and construction to go hand in hand with that.
    None of us likes the noise but it won’t be forever.
    And last but not least while it would be nice to further restrict the noise ordinance times we must be aware that contractors and landscaping companies also have to earn a living and make a profit.

    I certainly don’t want to be up replacing my roof myself or taking the enormous number of leaves in my garden..

    That being said the noise is not pleasant

  31. I have harped on this in the past. I hope the folks posting their dislike of the noise and pollution from landscaping equipment realize that idling in your car is also wasteful. I see it daily- downtown, in parking lots, etc. People sitting in their cars while the engine is running – usually on their mobile phones. Not cool and also illegal.

  32. if you want to talk pollution, most citing leaf blowers probably idle in their cars, burn oil for heat, use electricity that when its made pollutes, buy products that cause pollution during their manufacturing process, use fertilizer, have boats, drive gas powered vehicles, and the list goes on, and on, and on, yet the focus is on leaf blowers. :face plant:

    • If you have a specific concern that you would like to see town and your neighbors address, you should organize the effort. Twenty signatures are a pretty low bar.

  33. I am all for limiting or eliminating these blowers and have wanted to contact someone about this! Thanks for the article and comments. Now I know whom to get i touch with and will do.

  34. Janet B Tatusko

    Agree. Good post. There ARE electric leaf blowers and electric lawn mowers that are a fraction of the noise and air pollution. California has BANNED all loud [obnoxious] noises and pollutants of the caliber that we have to hear daily. Of course, there is an invention called the Rake that has a bonus called exercise…..

  35. I agree that leaf blower noise and activity seems constant, especially at times when we would normally have windows open. I agree that there should be time frames (9-5?) and no weekend leaf blowing.

  36. Thank you Dan and all of your readers who support action to reduce the noise and air pollution for 2-cycle leaf blowers! As others noted, not lost in the “noise” is the damage to the ecosystem including insect and bee populations that hibernate in leaf litter. Please, leave some leaves!

    For two years Earthplace and Sustainable Westport have been working alongside Valerie Seiling Jacobs to help educate the public about the strong science that supports eliminating the damage caused by gas powered leaf blowers.

    For those interested in volunteering to help get the facts out to the public, please reach out to one of us: t.mcdowell@earthplace.org; apaik@sustainablewestport.org; valerieseilingjacobs@gmail.com.

    Now is the time.

  37. This was all very interesting. I was glad to see so many similar comments. Nathaniel Martin offered more to think about and Jerry Kuyper had the most entertaining view. Twenty years ago I hated the leaf blowing and Overkill Lawn Services. They must be even worse now. But I moved.

  38. To Tony McDowell – Earthplace is partially funded by the town of Westport, and Sustainable Westport seems to now be in some way part of or affiliated with Earthplace. So I’m wondering about the logistics/implications/potential conflicts of having groups receiving town funding lobbying the town. Would you explain, please?

  39. If I don’t like the color of your house, I don’t have to look. If I don’t like your cooking, I don’t have to come for dinner, If you smell bad, I don’t have to hang out with you. But If If one homeowner is blasting a horrid, droning, sound from their yard, we all are forced to listen to it. Thankfully, Westport has ordinances against barking dogs. Let’s add some leaf blowing noise limitations for the sanity of our community and me!

  40. I could not be happier with my EGO leaf blower. https://egopowerplus.com/blower-530cfm/

    It is powerful, easy to use and quiet.

    According to California Air Resources Board, operating a best-selling commercial leaf blower for one hour emits smog-forming pollution comparable to driving a 2016 Toyota Camry about 1100 miles, or approximately the distance from Los Angeles to Denver.

  41. Wendy: Earthplace has been involved in environmental education for decades, participating on issues related to water quality through our Harbor Watch program; air quality with our no idling campaign; composting; helping residents build a pollinator pathway, and yes, reducing carbon pollution from leaf blowing and leaving more leaves on the ground. The last four are current community education campaigns, and all fall within our mission as a Nature Discovery and Environmental Learning Center.

  42. Donald Bergmann

    As one who sought a ban on commercial use of two cycle leaf blowers during all months except during the early spring and in October, I contacted the RTM many years ago. My sense is that most in Town and many in the RTM then, and probably even more so now, would like the RTM to adopt a meaningful ordinance. Those who oppose an ordinance tend not to argue substance but, rather issues such as over regulation, enforceability, the appeal of having a leaf free lawn or driveway, possible increased yard maintenance costs and various technical drafting issues that are usually exaggerated. One of our most environmentally sensitive members of the RTM, Wendy Batteau, falls into that category of coming up with reasons not to pass such an ordinance. I respect Wendy, I also respect most of those who simply oppose all new regulations. I also respect Peter Gold, but it is almost a canard to suggest our existing noise ordinance is relevant. However, the time has come. Having to work from home made many otherwise oblivious residents aware of the noise of two cycle leaf blowers. RTM member Matt Mandell has made this point. Pretty much all of us now realize the environmental and personal health issues. “Contact Save Westport Now”, e mail your RTM representatives, especially members such as Wendy Batteau, Jimmy Izzo and Peter Gold, as well as Jim Marpe, Jen Tooker and Melissa Kane who as our Board of Selectmen should take a stand. This is really not a big deal. Let’s do it.

  43. Malcolm Conley

    Amen. It is almost impossible to work from home with the ever present noise in the background. Between the blowing of grass clippings in the summer and leaves in the fall, I’ve become an expert at muting and unmuting myself on Zoom.

  44. Gerry Broflovski

    Oh oh.

    All these comments remind me of the South Park episode where Stan convinces all the town people to buy hybrids (mainly Honda Pious) and eventually the town has the second highest levels of smug in the country after San Francisco. Eventually the two clouds of smug converge with the cloud of smug from George Clooney’s Oscar acceptance speech and both San Fran and South Park are decimated by the perfect storm of all the smug clouds merging.

    The people of South Park then realize it wasn’t the hybrids causing the smug but rather their attitude.

    Westport let’s not be South Park.

  45. Gerald, you forgot to include your wife Sheila’s comment: “Westport is a very European city — like Paris, or Milan”

  46. Why would homeowners need to enforce any restrictions on leaf blowing practices? What do we have the police for? Recently, they have seemed to be reluctant to enforce any mandates on social distancing or mask wearing?

  47. To Don Bergman: you are absolutely unqualified to characterize about my actions and opinions. The people who have complained about leaf blowers to date have presented no substance, but rather statements of “common knowledge” (pretty much all of us now recognize …” – ) which are not facts on which to base legislation. In fact your early complaints were confined to noise issues and I have a copy of an email you wrote after a small study indicated some potential environmental harm saying that now you could get the noise issue dealt with from a health view. Had you not quit the RTM so early in your term, you would probably have known that sponsors of every proposed ordinance must answer questions about why the ordinance is necessary and justified, whether it would disadvantage anyone, what its financial implications are expected to be, what state legislation enables it, what other communities have considered/passed legislation, and much more, and that these inform full RTM discussions. I understand that the process of collecting and presenting info is ongoing and I look forward to seeing it.

    I suggest you confine your comments to issues of substance rather than speaking about the opinions of people with whom you have little to no contact. You certainly are wrong about my opinion and actions here. I can’t imagine what you were thinking to submit for publication the above personal slights and misinformation.

  48. As long as this town strives for perfection in the land of superlatives, we will have leaf blowers blowing 3 leaves off a patio or 4 leaves off a sidewalk….it is a shame…it is NOT a matter of complaining, it is a matter of wanting perfection and not doing things for ourselves, hiring people to do everything..

    • Hey Karen what about all those that cannot do it themselves? For instance with physical disabilities? Or the doctors and nurses that have been battling coronavirus working long hell shifts that are beyond exhausted both mentally and physically? Or those that work hard to support their families and want to spend the time they are not working with their families and not raking leaves? I think that your comment is tone deaf.

    • Bravo, I have observed this obsessive leaf blowing. Unless my brain was numb, after hearing | seeing a crew do three houses in a row, I swear I saw them come back for one last shrill driveway cleanup on house number 1. It’s shocking in a few hours that several leaves would fall and spoil their work.

      In my neighborhood simply going every other week would cut the problem in half. That is a reasonable solution any homeowner could request from their lawn service.

  49. Easy but hard solution – Government sponsored trade in of gas powered yard tools for electric, even if it’s just a substantial subsidy people and businesses will go for it. Small engines are a pain to maintain.

    Possible drawbacks:
    – Battery waste, from making them to disposing of ones that no longer work, is an environmental issue
    – Crews needing to recharge while away from their base will probably run generators in their trucks (one little motor is still better than lots of little motors)

  50. It seems to me that if there are concerns to be addressed with leaf-blowing-noise it should be two-fold. There should be db-level maximums for equipment used in Westport (I’m sure it is pretty straightforward to say that Model X falls on one side of the line and Model Y falls on the other, so you don’t have police running around with sound level meters) and limits on hours that certain behaviors (in addition to construction) can take place.

    That said, I was on RTM when Westport added an hour to the construction restriction and you would have thought the world was ending, because of the protests of every kind of business that could potentially be impacted by restrictions on noise at certain hours. (I especially recall the concerns of refuse haulers – and this was all about construction!)

    When every regulation in a fairly small town is treated like the regulatory camel’s nose under the tent, nothing ever gets done (except for touchy-feelies that don’t accomplish anything practical).

  51. Donald Bergmann

    I will send an e mail directly to Wendy Bateau. I do hope she supports a leaf blower ordinance once it gets a strong majority of RTM members behind it. Wendy is a forceful and capable voice on many issues.

  52. Aspetuck Land trust is concerned about the damage that leaf blowers cause to the ecosystem…to those fragile things we don’t see — insects that are a vital part of our complex food web that are blown to smitherines by these powerful leaf blowers. We highlighted this issue in a recent e-blast, “Leave the Leaves.”

    We applaud the work that Valerie Seiling Jacobs, Earthplace, and others are doing on this issue. Check out our Leave the Leaves post on the home page of our website: http://www.aspetucklandtrust.org

  53. Sustainable Westport is asking residents to please leave fallen leaves in their yards so nature can use them to support and restore ecosystems. We’ve been taught to remove leaves from our properties, yet that’s creating a deficit in our yards: less hibernation habitat for overwintering pupae (months and butterflies), less natural mulch to suppress weeds, retain moisture and build healthy soil; and less winter insulation for hibernating queen bumblebees (50% of native bumblebees are in decline) . If you need to move leaves around, we ask folks to please use a rake (tarps are helpful) or a zero-emissions, electric leaf blower. We welcome you to join our #WeLeaveTheLeaves initiative by purchasing our 9×12 metal sign for your yard for $15 (anything above is a donation) and display it to help foster dialog and inspire others to follow your sustainable land care practice. Learn more on our Take Action web page and contact us if you’d like to get involved in this or other initiatives. Thanks! -Analiese Paik, Project Lead, Sustainable Westport

  54. Yep ! And the rake is great for a house on 1/4 acre.. however if you are gainfully employee you are likely not spending your entire weekend taking up your garden…

  55. Andrew Colabella

    No need for a petition or a separate ordinance or work to be done.

    One will be coming shortly and has been in the works being carefully crafted.

    Please keep the emails of support and no support coming into the RTM. It’s a nonpartisan body and we love to hear from BOTH sides of the subject.

    Refer to Sustainable Westport for proper lawn Maintanence care and past notes that I have written.


  56. I converted 3 years ago to a robotic electric mower and a service using only electric leaf blowers. My noise and pollution levels have decreased by at least 90% I would guess. Pyoor is the service company.

  57. Pyoor is a company that combines convenience and sustainability. We match green minded homeowners with local green service providers. Services can simply be booked on http://www.pyoor.co with instant prices and money back guarantees.

    This fall we have seen a huge surge in demand for electric leaf blowing services. Home office is one reason but we also see a correlation between EV owners and switching to electric/robotic gardening services. The EV transition leads the change and it won’t stop here no matter what happens at a local level. Vehicle manufacturers are all going electric, other services are/will follow. The products/services are just better and will improve exponentially over the next 5 years. We all should take part and enjoy the green revolution, and hope it all adds up to sufficiently stop the climate change before it’s too late.

  58. Gerard MacDonell

    This is not a just a case of a bunch of cranky whiners being overly sensitive to the occasional irritation. In my neighborhood just north of Long Lots the sound is ear piercing, even indoors, sun up to sun down 24/7. And forget about actually enjoying your property, including the precious lawn, by going outside. We have surrendered the peace of this town to anal retentiveness about leaves on lawns. The whole thing is unspeakably stupid.