The New Castle Town Board will postpone resumption of its public hearing on banning gas-powered leaf blowers until members of the town’s Sustainability Advisory Board (SAB) have completed meetings with landscapers.
Officials decided last week to hold off reconvening the hearing, which had been scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 4, until they receive feedback and a compromise can be reached. The board scheduled Jan. 15 to discuss the issue again at a work session with the hearing tentatively scheduled to continue on Jan. 22.
There is the possibility that if the SAB and the landscapers have not completed their work or if the Town Board hasn’t fully vetted a new proposal that the Jan. 22 hearing could be postponed to a later date.
Supervisor Robert Greenstein said he would like to see the SAB’s working group meet with the landscapers’ representatives and prepare an outline of revised legislation that can be brought before the board.
“Get them into a room and try to hammer something out to get everybody’s opinion, and try to hammer something out that they feel comfortable with and come back with a product a lot of people have signed off on,” said Supervisor Robert Greenstein.
At the opening of the hearing on Oct. 23, nearly all speakers advocated for the banning of all gas-powered leaf blowers by 2021 with only electric and battery-operated equipment allowed in the fall. The use of all leaf blowers would have been prohibited from May 15 to Sept. 30 starting next year.
However, there was strong pushback from landscapers and representatives from the industry when the hearing resumed on Nov. 13 who were alarmed at the sweeping changes. It was pointed out that while 18 Westchester municipalities have leaf blower legislation on the books, none authorize a complete ban on the gas-powered machines.
There were also questions regarding the accuracy some of the information provided in the SAB’s presentation to justify the need for the ban.
The leaf blower legislation was proposed by the SAB as an initiative to reduce carbon emissions and to cut down on noise and particle pollution, which can negatively affect the health of both the equipment operators and residents.
While the Town Board remained committed to passing legislation regulating leaf blowers, Greenstein said he didn’t want to bring another proposal back before the public if there wasn’t a realistic chance of receiving wider support.
“It’s obviously stirring a lot of passion and instead of wasting a lot of time on it, I think we should hear these people,” Greenstein said.