Pleasantville officials are ready to wade back into the contentious issue of leaf blower use and considering legislation to regulate its use in the village.
Village Trustee Nicole Asquith, who has taken a leadership role on the issue, presented findings at the June 14 Village Board meeting of a leaf blower survey taken in February and March. She said the survey’s goal was to gauge public sentiment on regulating leaf blower use to help curtail controlling air and noise pollution.
Of the 633 responses, more than half indicated that they care for their own yard as opposed to having a landscaper service. There were 158 residents who responded that they own electric leaf blowers while 123 own gas-powered mowers.
Reducing the village’s carbon footprint and improving air and noise quality is integral to introducing any new restrictions on leaf blower use, Asquith noted.
“This is a balancing act,” Asquith said. “Homeowners are concerned about the impact this is having on our lives. We are trying to find a compromise.”
Asquith reminded the board and those who tuned into last week’s live-streamed meeting that the village pledged to become a climate smart community in May 2018.
One legislative proposal is to have a seasonal ban on gas-powered leaf blowers from May 15 to Oct. 1, and allow all types of leaf blowers during fall and spring clean-up. During the summer, homeowners would still be able to use electric leaf blowers for odd jobs under the proposal.
Of the residents doing their own yardwork, 278 residents responded that they were opposed to seasonal restrictions while 193 were in favor. Guiding that part of the proposal was the potential that many residents don’t want to be disturbed and enjoy being outdoors in the warmer weather.
Another idea, the transition from gas-powered to electric-powered leaf blowers over a two-year period, received nearly split support with 240 residents in favor and 227 against.
Resident Tom Rooney said homeowners are not the problem.
“When I do my lawn, it’s done in 10 minutes,” Rooney said. “It’s the professional landscapers who drive the biggest trucks and they dispense like it’s D-Day. The noise is loud but they are very fast and they’re out of here.”
Mayor Peter Scherer said it wasn’t the village’s intention to single out landscaping companies.
“We don’t believe we can establish a regulation based on who owns the leaf blower,” Scherer said. “We can’t have a different regulation for a commercial professional company and some laws for someone who owns their own leaf blower.”
Also being considered is adding two hours to the quiet period during weekends and holidays. The village’s current noise ordinance prohibits running outdoor power equipment between 7 p.m. and 8 a.m. Monday through Friday and 7 p.m. to 9 a.m. on weekends and federal holidays.
A change to the noise ordinance would be to prohibit use between 6 p.m. and 10 a.m. on weekends and holidays. This would allow people to have more quiet time on weekend mornings and to be able to gather outdoors in the evenings without disturbance.
Survey results revealed that restricting times leaf blowers may be used beyond the existing noise ordinance was evenly split as 235 residents were in favor and 233 opposed.
Scherer said the village would schedule another discussion in the upcoming weeks.
“Whatever we propose will upset folks depending on their viewpoint,” he said. “We’d like to avoid limiting the rights of individual homeowners as much as we can. But there are enough people here in the community that are upset when a small army of landscape folks arrive with these very loud devices.”