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You are here: Home Section Table Village Voices Trustees Agree to Hold a Public Hearing on Proposed Limitations on Gas Leaf Blowers
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Trustees Agree to Hold a Public Hearing on Proposed Limitations on Gas Leaf Blowers

leafblowerPrior to the Village Board meeting on1-12, Trustees held a work session to review recommendations from the Conservation Advisory Council on limiting the use of gas leaf blowers which the CAC’s recent report says are noisy and negatively impact the environment and the health of those who use them. Similar bans have been enacted in other towns in Westchester. According to Michelle Sterling, Chair of the CAC, they “proposed an incremental set of requirements that would be reasonable and feasible and strike a balance between the need for peace and quiet with the desire for a manicured property.”

The discussion centered around two option of three options.

The first is to bar the use of gas-powered blowers from Saturday – Monday during leaf season, and also ban them in May. (They are already banned from June to September.)

Option three designates Saturday and Sunday as quiet days in leaf season and also bans gas-powered leaf blowers in May.

The discussion centered on the ability of landscapers and the Village to use battery-powered electric leaf blowers to clean up leaves when the gas-powered leaf blowers are banned. The CAC contended that it’s necessary to change behavior for the public good and that residents and landscapers would adapt once these new regulations were enforced. Sterling argued “Code changes influence behavior. Larchmont implemented a full year ban – and so did Irvington. Landscapers who have battery powered electric blowers will get more business and those with gas blowers will get less. It will cause a market shift.”

Village Manager Steve Pappalardo was concerned that Village crews would have fewer days in leaf season to clean up leaves before snowfalls and that education would be required to change landscapers’ practices. He said, “The gas leaf blowers are faster.” He expressed reservations about the ability of the current Village staff to enforce the regulations, saying, “The code enforcer we have is busy with building code violations. Enforcement will fall on the police department. We would need to have dedicated crews to go out in the neighborhood and look for landscapers looking for leaf blowers and take appropriate action.”

Trustee Jonathan Lewis asked for a financial analysis of the proposal. He saw the fines as a potential revenue source for the Village, especially if the fees were graduated. He said, “The fines which will help us become more sustainable. If you have hefty fines for violations, and make the third offense $1,000, it can be a “six figure revenue generator” and you can get compliance.”

Police Chief Andrew Matturro reported that police were giving out “70 tickets per year on average for use of leaf blowers in the summer months … We have had a ban on gas leaf blowers from June 1 to September 30 since 1993.” He said, “We are trying to change behavior with the fines, but cautioned, “We will have difficulty doing that alone as a Police Department.”

Trustee Seth Ross asked, “There will be additional operational costs for residents and landscapers. I would want to know from landscapers what the additional costs will be and what their issues will be and how that will affect the residents. Are they willing to do this at no additional cost?”

Trustee Justin Arest expressed support for Option 3 and said, “We do want to hear more from the community – we would want to call for a public hearing.”

Trustee Randy Whitestone said, “We are in transition on the technology. I would like to gather input. I am in favor of one of these options – I don’t know which one.”

During public comments, former Trustee Bill Stern said, “One of the functions of government is to protect people from themselves. The gas blower situation has been studied, including by NIH that shows it is not just the noise, it’s the long-term effect on the population. Gas blowers push out an enormous amount of pollution – which induces asthma on a long-term basis. They diminish hearing.”

Madelaine Eppenstein, representing Friends of the Scarsdale Parks, said they support option 1 as a first step. She said, “This is an incredibly important issue and the Village should consider that there does come a time to make more progress.”

Elaine Weir said, “It’s good for the workers. The faster we get rid of the gas powered blowers the better.”

Dr. Darlene LeFrancois Haber said, “This is an issue of public health. These two stroke engines are extremely hazardous. They are not blowing air. The fumes are invisible. My patients are the landscapers. Am I concerned about my health? Yes, but not concerned enough to stop going to work and taking care of my patients. The landscapers don’t cover their ears. They have hearing loss and headaches. We need to do the right thing for them. We are part of the problem right now. I strongly support option one.”

Susan Douglass agreed wholeheartedly with what has been said. She said, “I am a proponent of option 1. There is a strong educational component here. Landscapers resist change – but if you say this is what you must do they will do it and accept it.”

Robert Alonzi Jr., the Golf Course Superintendent at Fenway asked “How do you feel this will translate for other industries? It will have a dramatic impact on the way we operate.”

Sterling responded that there is an exemption for golf courses and schools, and a proposal for a buffer within 100 feet of a residence.

Trustee Lena Crandall proposed that the Board pass a resolution to bring the matter to a public hearing and the trustees agreed to schedule one.

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