The Town of Mount Pleasant is considering regulations on the use of gas-powered leaf blowers, which would make it the latest municipality in the area to take up a form of the measure.
The issue, which was introduced to the Town Board last week by the town’s Conservation Advisory Council Chairman (CAC) Steven Kavee and CAC member Carmel Promisel, would likely propose seasonal restrictions on the machines.
Gas-powered leaf blowers have been targeted by many municipalities because of the noise pollution they create and the particulates that are blown around, making it unhealthy for those nearby.
“What we were looking to do is go with one of the least restrictive (regulations),” Promisel said. “We’re not trying to make anyone’s life difficult.”
While much of the proposed legislation still needs to be fleshed out, Promisel said the CAC was looking to ban gas-powered blowers from June until early fall and during the winter. From March until June they would be allowed, to help property owners with spring clean-up as well as from September or October until sometime in December to permit residents to handle the large volume of leaves in the fall.
Plug-in electric or battery-powered blowers would be able to be used year-round, she said.
Kavee cautioned town officials that they will be pressured by many landscapers to abandon the idea, something most municipalities that have taken up the issue have faced. However, with more residents working from home since the start of the pandemic, a trend that is likely to continue to at least some degree, residents may be more likely to appreciate the effort.
He said the challenge would be to educate the public on the environmental consequences of the gas-powered blowers, particularly those with two-stroke engines, which spew tremendous amounts of pollutants.
“As much as you may, and I’m sure you’ll get pushback from landscapers and from some homeowners, I think you’ll also find people looking forward to this possibility of some peace and quiet,” Kavee said.
Part of the education process would be to inform residents that not every lawn has to appear pristine, with every single clipping blown off the grass surfaces, Promisel said.
She said starting off with one of the least restrictive sets of regulations may help to ease homeowners into alternatives for their properties. The Village of Irvington’s regulation, for example, allows each property owner to use gas-powered leaf blowers for a maximum of a half-hour a week, which ensures limited use.
“I think one of the biggest challenges is for people to understand that your lawn doesn’t have to look perfect, it doesn’t have to have weeds completely off of it all the time, that it’s healthy,” Promisel said.
The Town Board listened to the presentation from Kavee and Promisel but did offer any comments. Town Attorney Darius Chafizadeh said town officials would look at a more formal proposal when it is submitted to the board.
In recent years, more than 20 municipalities throughout the county have approved some form of regulations limiting leaf blowers, including the towns of New Castle and Bedford. The villages of Pleasantville, Mount Kisco and Croton-on-Hudson have also been discussing the possibility as well.
Climate Smart Community
During the discussion at last Tuesday evening’s work session, Kavee also raised several other environmental-related initiatives to the Town Board, including a request for the board to consider passing a resolution that would name Mount Pleasant a Climate Smart Community.
A resolution, as recognized by the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), would signify that a community is willing to make a commitment to be leaders on the issue of combating climate change and pledge to take concrete steps to help mitigate and adapt to climate change at the local level.
Kavee said that the agency has 10 criteria that it scores communities on to see whether a town is fulfilling its goals. Municipalities that become a Climate Smart Community not only show their residents and other towns that they have taken the issue of climate change seriously, but could be more highly considered for state grant money when they make improvements that are related to the issue.
Supervisor Carl Fulgenzi said that the town has already made several key improvements toward that end, including installing energy-efficient streetlights and placing solar panels on the roof of the town Highway Department.
This month, the town has also begun work on a carport over the Town Hall parking lot, which will also have solar panels on top, and will do the same once the summer is over for the community center lot.
“There are things the town has down already,” Fulgenzi said. “We’re financing it now.”
Kavee said he is confident that Mount Pleasant would already be considered a Climate Smart Community based on the steps taken already but needs to pass a resolution and be evaluated.
“Not only is it the right thing, but economically it makes sense,” he said.