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The pandemic has resulted in many people working at home- and the noise from leaf blowers is a major quality of life aggravation for residents. Environmental harm to residents from leaf blowers also a problem
Last night the Greenburgh Town Board met with the Conservation Advisory Council to discuss a possible leaf blower ban between May 15 and October 15th (law would also be in effect from Dec 15 to March 1). You can watch the work session below (this was the third item on the work session agenda). No decision was made last night. The Parks and Public Works department will meet very soon to discuss leaf blowing issues on town property before a final version of the law is drafted and before the Town Board votes on the legislation. The draft law proposed by the Conservation Advisory Council, authorized exceptions for town properties -something that some Bd members wanted changed. I anticipate that there will be a Town Board vote on having a leaf blower ordinance within the next few months-hopefully sooner. I support taking some action and am confident that we will take action on this important matter.
The Town Board has been discussing leaf blower laws for years. But, it's been controversial with the community almost evenly split . Hundreds of communities around the nation have adopted leaf blower laws. Because of the pandemic many more people are working from home - and find the noise from leaf blowers to be a very major quality of life disruption. I receive frequent complaints about leaf blower noise disrupting residents ability to work or study if they are students. Because so many people are working at home the urgency of taking action is greater now than ever before. A perfect law is going to be difficult to approve. I would support a one year sunset law --a law that would have to be renewed or modified in a year. This would provide Board members and the community to be able to evaluate the legislation and make changes later on.
LAST NIGHTS DISCUSSION - THIS WAS THIRD ITEM ON AGENDA
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION The Conservation Advisory Council (“CAC”) recommends that the Town Board adopt a law regulating the use of leaf blowers with the suggested format below:
1. Ban gasoline and electric blowers, except during the following periods: (i) March 1 - May 15 (spring clean-up period) and (ii) October 15 - December 15 (fall clean-up period). During those clean-up periods, blowers may be used during hours Monday - Friday 9am - 3pm and weekends/holidays 10am - 5pm.
2. Exceptions would be allowed for: A. Town Supervisor declared emergencies. B. Use within 2 ft of outdoor equipment like air conditioning compressors, generators and other outdoor machinery and related piping and/or wiring exposed above ground. C. Department of Public Works (because its operations affect public safety on roads and sidewalks). D. Department of Parks & Recreation for activities affecting public safety on public walkways and playing fields and, with Town Board approval, for other activities due to budgetary constraints. E. Debris clean-up resulting from authorized tree removals (special limited circumstances). The Recommendation is based on (i) the research of the CAC, summarized below, regarding the environmental harm of blowers to the community and the health of residents and (ii) numerous quality of life complaints from residents regarding the noise of blowers.
The CAC also considered the recently adopted law of the Village of Larchmont banning both gasoline and electric leaf blowers, except for electric blowers only during the month of April and October 15 - December 15 of each year. The CAC Recommendation (i) has a longer spring cleanup period [March 1 - May 15], (ii) allows both gasoline and electric blowers, not just electric blowers, 2 to be used during the spring and fall clean-up periods, and (iii) adds a number of public safety and special limited circumstances exceptions not found in the Larchmont law.
In 2018, the CAC issued a long Report to the Town Board. Based on the CAC’s research, the CAC Report identified three areas of harmful environmental impacts of blowers: (i) they thrown filthy substances into the air; (ii) they create noise pollution; and (iii) they destroy the soils. This comes from the fact that virtually all blowers, both gasoline and electric powered, have Hurricane force winds. (1) These Hurricane force winds throw filthy particulate matter into the air, such as animal waste (feces and urine) and fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides like glyphosate (Round-Up). One hour of blower use throws approximately 5 pounds of particulate matter into the air. Some of these particulates remain in the air for hours, and can lodge in residents’ lungs at distances up to 65 feet away. Air-borne particulate matter exacerbates asthma, allergies and respiratory problems, and is especially harmful to children and seniors. (2) Blowers involuntarily expose residents to annoying noise levels. Almost all blowers, both gasoline and electric, operate at a noise level above that which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency sets as comfortable conversational level. Many blowers, both gasoline and electric, operate at a noise level above that which the EPA calculates as having adverse auditory impacts. (3) These Hurricane force winds of blowers adversely affect soil regeneration. Thus, in short, there are (i) pollutants being thrown into the air, (ii) noise pollution, and (iii) environmental harm to the soils. All of these harm the community and residents. A law structured as recommended would not appear to have any unique enforcement difficulties.
The CAC further recommends that the Town Board appoint a committee, consisting of a member of the Town Board, a member of the CAC, the Commissioner or Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Public Works, and the Commissioner or Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Parks & Recreation, to finalize the details of the law. In its work the committee would seek technical and practical input from representatives of local landscapers.