New Jersey town weighs ban on leaf blowers during summer months

Maplewood’s municipal complex was expected to draw a crowd for Tuesday night’s hearing. Photo: Maplewood TownshipMaplewood’s municipal complex was expected to draw a crowd for Tuesday night’s hearing.
Photo: Maplewood Township

Landscape contractors in New Jersey were expected to turn out Tuesday night to voice their opposition to Maplewood Township’s proposal to ban the use of leaf blowers between June 1 and Aug. 31. Members of the town’s governing committee could vote on the measure tonight.

The New Jersey Landscape Contractors Association put the word out to its members about the proposal, encouraging them to attend tonight’s meeting.

Maplewood Township already has an ordinance limiting the use of blowers to machines that operate at no more than 60 decibels.

Barry Greenberg, co-owner of Birch Hill Landscaping in nearby Millburn, said his partner would be among those voicing opposition to the proposal at Tuesday night’s town committee meeting.

“This is definitely an issue of concern to landscapers,” Greenberg said. “We don’t do lawn maintenance, but we still need to use blowers occasionally for cleanup, as do other landscape construction companies.

“Who’s to say the guy who’s using a chop saw won’t be banned next? My fear is they’re going to say, ‘Now that we’ve got the guys doing lawn maintenance, we’ll turn to the guys doing construction’,” he said. “And I mean all construction.”

Maplewood’s proposal may spread to other locales, Greenberg said, and that could mean significantly higher costs for homeowners who simply want to keep their lawns, driveways and sidewalks clean.

Noting that the ban is for the summer, Greenberg said the use of blowers in the fall will involve hours of work, while summertime use normally requires only a few minutes per house.

“If you have to sweep a 250-foot driveway with a broom, how long will that take?” he asked. “Blowing it requires only 10 or 15 minutes. Obviously, the costs to homeowners are going to go way up.”

Maplewood’s existing ordinance also requires landscape contractors to register with the town.

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