As a proposed leaf blower ordinance makes its way through the Representative Town Meeting, many residents are making noise.
Some want it enacted, for peace and quiet. Others oppose it, because it limits the times they can tend to their lawns.
One group has been noticeably silent: the leaf blowers themselves.
The other day, they weighed in. Here’s what the Connecticut Grounds Keepers Association — a non-profit serving “landscaping firms and their allied manufacturers and distributors” — says:
A proposed ordinance is working its way through Westport’s RTM committees pertaining to the use of leaf blowers. While the concept of decreasing noise is a noble and worthy cause, the execution and language of this ordinance is problematic at best.
One issue with this ordinance involves the time window given to use gas or electric leaf blowers. If you were to use even an electric leaf blower at 5:01 p.m. or later to clean the patio or clear your driveway, you could be subject to a $249 fine from Westport’s Conservation Department.
This means that commuters who find themselves stuck on the train or in traffic past 5 p.m. will be unable to ever use any form of a leaf blower during the work week.
Additionally, if your landscaper happens to use a gas-powered leaf blower between May 1 and October 14, you as the homeowner could be subject to
that $249 fine.
Furthermore, the reporting mechanism written into this ordinance encourages
neighbors to videotape one another and document leaf blower usage for submission and assessment of citations and fines.
Another issue with the proposed ordinance involves the selective targeting of landscape professionals.
This ordinance allows unrestricted use of gas-powered leaf blowers on town owned property and publicly or privately-owned golf courses.
During the recent RTM Health Committee meeting, some individuals expressed concern about the emissions and dust from leaf blowers for the operators and
bystanders. It is hypocritical and unjust to restrict gas powered leaf blowers for homeowners and landscapers, but condone and encourage their use by town employees and contractors who Westport is
The burden of compliance for this ordinance lies solely with landscape professionals and you, the homeowner. While battery-powered landscape equipment is an adequate solution for many homeowners with small yards to maintain, the equipment isn’t ready for high-volume professional use.
This is confirmed by the exemptions of public works employees and golf courses.
The cost of compliance to a homeowner may be in the hundreds to purchase an electric leaf blower, but the cost to landscape professionals is in the thousands to outfit their entire team.
If electric leaf blowers were so much better than their gas-powered equivalent, they would have already been adopted and used en masse by the industry and the town.
The progressive transition in the powering of lawn and landscape equipment
should be allowed to happen as technology advances and becomes economically feasible for implementation by small business owners.
This ordinance has not yet passed. Since the stated goal was to achieve a quieter environment for Westport, a reasonable solution would be to determine acceptable working hours in residential areas, rather than restrict equipment use.
Furthermore, setting zero emissions equipment goals will certainly be dealt with at the federal level soon, and should not vary from one town to another.
The Connecticut Grounds Keepers Association
(The RTM’s Finance, Public Works Committee, and the Environment Committee, have met about this bill. The Ordinance, Parks & Recreation and Public Works Committees have meetings next week. The entire RTM will consider the proposal on October 11.)
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