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P’ville Board Proposes Revisions to Hotly Debated Leaf Blower Law
By Nora Lowe
Civil but heated debate earlier this month over Pleasantville’s proposed law to impose seasonal limitations on fuel-powered motorized leaf blowers prompted the Pleasantville Village Board last week to announce several revisions to the legislation.
The limitation would prohibit the use of gas-powered leaf blowers between May 15 and Oct. 1.
A modified version of the law introduced at the May 23 meeting would delay the measure from going into effect until May 2023, affording residents and landscapers a full year to prepare their equipment for the change and provide the village time to launch an information campaign about the regulations.
Second, to level the playing field, the Pleasantville Country Club would no longer be exempt from the law, as was originally proposed. The initial exemption of the country club rankled some residents at the opening of the public hearing two weeks earlier.
However, the board still plans on honoring the Pleasantville School District’s request for an exemption on turf fields in periods of heavy rain, in what Village Trustee Nicole Asquith called “a unique circumstance.” She explained that the district’s turf is composed of organic materials, such as cork and coconut husk, that tend to rise to the surface after significant rain.
Lastly, the board is considering shortening the hours of operation for leaf blowers and all landscaping equipment by two hours on weekends and holidays to assuage the fears of “those who are clamoring for some kind of relief,” Asquith said. The law currently allows leaf blowers to operate from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on those days, but the permissible period would be shortened to 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. under the revised proposal.
Before the resumption of the hearing last Monday, Mayor Peter Scherer offered a recap of the proposed law.
“There are a whole lot of folks who feel very strongly on the subject on both sides,” he said.
The advantages of a gas-powered leaf blower restriction include a reduction in noise and air pollution, as well as limiting disruptions to residents working or relaxing at home. However, opponents of the legislation have voiced concerns over infringement on property rights and negative economic impacts to local landscaping businesses.
Asquith said that certain themes emerged from the hearing’s first session, which village officials hope to address with the proposed revisions. Those concerns include times of operation, desire for a level playing field and the urgency of the noise complaints.
“Taking all these things into consideration…and the fact that there’s definitely a divided community on this, we are proposing some changes,” Asquith said.
Some residents expressed appreciation for the potential revisions but were still against the new law.
“I do want to say thank you for all for the amendments that you made, because I think those are very thoughtful additions based on the conversations last week,” said resident Kimberly Bendus.
But her feelings remain unchanged from May 9 when the hearing opened, arguing for the right “as a homeowner to maintain her property the way she would like.”
Resident Don Willoman, a supporter of the legislation, voiced his frustrations at the noise pollution the gas-powered blowers cause and urged the village to take action.
“Everybody wants perfection on their lawn,” Willoman said. “They’re doing (leaf blowing) in the streets…What are they accomplishing apart from annoying their neighbors?”
The hearing was adjourned and will be reconvened at the next Town Board meeting on Monday, June 13.
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