Mount Kisco Weighs Delaying Summer Ban for Gas-Powered Leaf Blowers Until 2023

Mount Kisco officials are considering a revision to a key piece of the village’s proposed leaf blower legislation that would delay the phase-out of the gas-powered machines during the summer months until 2023.

Mayor Gina Picinich said the postponement of the summer prohibition for an additional year is to give residents and landscaping businesses that have relatively new gas-powered equipment the time to start making the transition to electric or battery-operated blowers.

When originally proposed in April, the village had planned on instituting the summer ban on two-stroke gas-powered engines by next summer if the legislation was approved this year. Those machines will still be permitted to be used from Oct. 1 through Apr. 30 through 2024 to allow residents to clean during the fall leaf season and in spring.

In May, the Village Board tweaked the dates that the gas-powered machines can be used until the gas blowers are phased out in a few years, adding the final two weeks of September.

Picinich said the feedback the board received is that the two-stroke gas blowers have about a three- to five-year lifespan, so it would provide homeowners and commercial landscapers the opportunity to start changing their existing equipment during the next year-and-a-half and replacing them with electric or battery-operated machines.

“So this provides them the opportunity to start immediately, to start making these purchases,” Picinich said. “So at the very least, some of their equipment will be able to be electric so they will continue to do the job that they do.”

However, a couple of residents who have urged officials to approve leaf blower regulations said they were disappointed that the board was considering the delay for another year, should the legislation be approved in 2021. Lilian Burgler, who joined Trustee Peter Grunthal in April to pitch the regulations to the rest of the Village Board, said that several municipalities are making second rounds of revisions to strengthen their existing regulations. Mount Kisco shouldn’t be delaying when the gas-powered blowers have such negative environmental and health consequences, she said.

Furthermore, there are landscaping companies that want to modernize, and would not experience a serious hardship, Burgler added. The current situation wrongly frames the issue as a pro-business versus a pro-environment fight. 

“I would really like to ask and really beg the board to please consider instituting the summer ban as soon as feasible,” Burgler said. “This law should have been passed decades ago. This delay is unacceptable. It fails the citizens of Mount Kisco.”

Conservation Advisory Council Chairman John Rhodes also urged the board to reconsider the delay on the summer ban for another year.

“There’s little benefit for the residents of Mount Kisco,” Rhodes said. “It literally means that the residents will have to put up with another summer of noise and air pollution.”

Two-stroke machines are considered the worst alternative for people’s health and the environment. It is the most toxic because motor oil is combined with gasoline to operate them, as opposed to four-stroke blowers that only use oil for lubrication.

Picinich said the village was trying to balance all constituents’ needs.

“We’re thinking in totality for everyone, and what we’re trying to do is to do it the right way, the transition to electric equipment for those who made that investment,” she said. “We’ve heard from many businesses that may not want any ban at all, so our goal in all that we do is to try and find the balance for everyone across the whole community and it’s not an us versus them at any level.”

The delay on the summer ban is being written into the legislation and will be included when the public hearing resumes in September.

Under the current proposal, landscapers and other commercial outfits would be able to use the gas-powered blowers from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays. Businesses would not be allowed to use the machinery on Sundays and holidays.

Residents would be able to operate their leaf blowers from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sundays and holidays.

There would be no limits on electric leaf blowers.

More than two leaf blowers being operated simultaneously will be prohibited on less than two acres.

Violators would face fines of $75 to $1,000.

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