Croton-on-Hudson officials are currently considering a proposal that would outlaw gas-powered leaf blowers year-round by 2023, making it the latest Westchester municipality to contemplate such a move.
During the Oct. 26 Village Board Work Session, the Conservation Advisory Council presented revisions of the proposal that would see a more phased in approach, with an emphasis on educating the public on what the law would entail. Officials are aiming to shift to electric machinery to protect the environment, limit health risks and regulate noise pollution.
“When we heard the feedback from the village and village residents, we decided we needed to revisit our timeline (and) that under the current circumstances that would not be feasible at all,” CAC chair Janet Monahan said. “We decided to stretch it out all the way to 2023.”
The latest revision proposes a seasonal ban in 2021 from May to October, with legislation prohibiting gas-powered leaf blowers from January to October in 2022. In 2023, the village would institute a year-round ban, with continued year-round education.
According to the proposal, the village can still permit the use of gas or electric powered blowers after a storm event at any time of the year should it be needed. The Hudson National Golf Club would be exempt from the proposed law.
Violators would be subject to a $250 fine for the first offense, $500 for the second infraction and $1,000 for the third and any subsequent offenses. Convictions would be deemed a violation, not a misdemeanor or felony, with fines attributed to the person operating the leaf blower, the party who employed the person in violation and the property owner, according to the proposal.
“We really truly believe that education is a key component to this,” Monahan said. “That was another reason why we decided to stretch it out because we did not have the time to get the education background to the residents that we wanted to.”
Currently, the operation of leaf blowers or other motorized lawn or garden equipment is allowed Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., excluding holidays, Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Sundays between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.
While officials agree with elements of the proposal, Village Manager Janine King recommended the board instead implement the seasonal ban in 2021 and revisit the proposal and its effectiveness before heading into 2022 in the event adjustments need to be made.
“If the board does decided to go ahead with the seasonal ban for 2021, I think it would be cleaner to pass the law on the seasonal ban and then revisit how it goes before you legislate a future year,” King said.
Officials also questioned if residents would know the difference between a gas-powered or electric leaf blower before issuing a complaint to Village Hall.
Pugh implored the CAC to speak to other Westchester municipalities with similar laws in effect to determine if residents are aware of the difference. He also requested data be gathered to determine if a seasonal ban has made a difference and how often citations are written before discussions continue.
If passed, Croton would join about a dozen other Westchester municipalities that have passed laws regulating gas-powered lawn equipment. Recently, New Castle officials unanimously approved a law prohibiting the use of gas-powered leaf blowers from June 1 through Sept. 30.
Pleasantville officials are also discussing a ban to curtail noise and air pollution and limit health impacts. The proposed ordinance would allow leaf blowers to be used only in spring for two weeks and for a three-week period in fall. The weeks where they could be used would depend on the weather. Operation would be allowed after 10 a.m. on Saturday and after noon on Sunday.