Mass. Town Says Yes To Partial Leaf Blower Ban
Arlington, Mass., successfully passed a ban on the use of gas-powered leaf blowers from May to October.
Local legislators in Arlington, Mass., put their collective foot down this week by making lawn and landscape workers put down their leaf blowers within city limits for five months of each year.
Members of the Arlington Town Meeting voted 95-85 to ban the use of gas-powered leaf blowers every May 15 through Oct. 15. Residents advocating prohibition – originally proposed as a year-round ban by Town Meeting member Carol Band – cited the noise and dust churned up by the equipment as sufficient reason to outlaw them, leaving no alternative but the broom and rake for landscape cleanup.
''Ten minutes with a rake is very therapeutic for the mind, soul and body,'' Town Meeting member Bob Radochia told the Boston Globe. Radochia’s five-month per year proposal was the alternative to Band’s measure that ultimately passed.
The voice vote was so close that Town Moderator John Leone initially thought the proposal had failed. Once a standing count was taken, the measure was approved.
Arlington Town Counsel Juliana Rice said the fine for violating the ban would be $200 per day that a violation occurs. The ban will only cover private property, and Rice said it likely won’t be implemented this year because the bylaw change must be approved by the state attorney general’s office, and the public must be notified.
Similar proposals this year failed in the Massachusetts towns of Wellesley and Marblehead. Last year Boston suburb Brookline banned leaf blowers in the summer and winter months, but an exception was made for maintenance workers and landowners with more than five acres to keep up.
Christine Connolly, Arlington’s Health and Human Services director, said the town’s Board of Health did not discuss the leaf blower ban because the Arlington Board of Selectmen voted 5-0 that Town Meeting should take no action on the proposal.
''If the Board of Health thought leaf blowers were a public health threat, they obviously would take this up,'' Connolly said.
Opponents of the ban included Town Meeting member Maria Romano, who said that Arlington should not meddle with how people choose to clean their property. Outlawing leaf blowers was extremism at its worst, she said, and proponents of the ban were trying to scare people over the dust and particles that the devices kick up.
''This is America the free, home of the gas blower,'' Romano said. ''I think [the ban is] a little overkill.''