New Jersey Landscape Contractors Looking to Sweep Away the Maplewood Leaf Blower Ban
New Blower Ban Targets Commercial Landscapers
The New Jersey Landscape Contractors Association (NJLCA), its Industry Allies, and residents of Maplewood, N.J., are urged to join together at the Maplewood Township Committee Meeting on April 4, 2017, at 7:30 p.m. to let their voices be heard. The Township of Maplewood, N.J. has proposed the adoption of a ban only on commercial entities from using gas-powered leaf blowers, ignoring private and non-commercial use. The NJLCA strongly believes that these new measures will cause hardship for both landscaping businesses and residents of the Township.
On April 4th at 7:30 p.m., the Township Committee is slated to adopt the ordinance, which prohibits all commercial entities such as landscapers, from using one of their most essential tools between May 15 and September 30. However, the Ordinance applies to no one else. Residents and non-commercial entities such as employees of the Township and Country Club, are exempt and can continuously operate gas-powered leaf blowers from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays. Residents are also permitted to operate blowers on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. How exactly does that solve the hazards to health and environment that the Ordinance claims it is addressing? Clearly it does not and instead simply discriminates against commercial businesses that rely on gas-powered leaf blowers to perform their services.
As one Maplewood landscape contractor recently stated, "I offered for the Committee to come out on the job with me for a day and see that I spend no more than 9 to 11 minutes cleaning off each property. They refused." Because homeowners are not professionals, they typically require approximately 30 minutes to cleaning off an equivalently sized property, if not longer. In addition, under the Ordinance, if a parent paid their child to go clean off the driveway with their gas-powered leaf blower, then they would be subjected to a $500 fine.
"You're telling me that I can use my own blower to clean my yard, but I can't hire someone to do it for me? Even if they use my leaf blower? I am 66 years old and cannot do it myself," said Linda K. at the March 21 township committee meeting.
The EPA has mandated that all small engines, similar in size to leaf blowers, must meet strict exhaust emission requirements. For some engines, hydrocarbon emissions have been reduced by 90%. And what the Township apparently fails to recognize is that leaf blowers are oftentimes required to be used in conjunction with pesticide and fertilizer laws, which require any product that ends up on sidewalks or driveways be blown back onto the turf area, to avoid contaminating the ground water after a rain. Brooms are not nearly as effective in getting these granules out of the grooves and cracks in the pavement, while a leaf blower ensures that the granules are items safely blown off the pavement and back onto the property.