New Jersey town lengthens duration of leaf blower ban

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This week the Maplewood Township Committee voted unanimously to approve the ordinance to ban the use of gas-powered leaf blowers for commercial landscapers from May 15 to Sept. 30 annually.

Last May the New Jersey town passed a seasonal blower ban that lasted from June 1 to Aug. 31 and only applied to landscaping businesses.

“It’s a quality of life issue,” Nancy Adams told NJTV News. “It’s a health issue. It’s an environmental issue and there are scientific studies to back that up.”

Many landscaping professionals appeared at the meeting on April 4 to speak against the proposed ban stating it was “unfair” and “illogical,” according to Tap into Bloomfield.

Some blamed the town for failing to enforce the previous ban and Deputy Mayor Nancy Adams said she remembered catching landscapers violating the ban last year, only to see them move a few properties down and then resume.

“It is an insult now for the third week in a row that you’re coming up here and blaming the town for not enforcing the previous ordinance,” said Victor DeLuca, mayor of Maplewood. “I was mayor 14 years ago when the original compromise was made between landscapers and homeowners. Unfortunately, the landscaping community did not uphold their end of the bargain.”

David Mairo, a lawyer with the New Jersey Landscape Contractors Association presented the Township Committee with signed letters from 50 people opposing the ban and it is uncertain if legal action will also be pursued after saying the ordinance went beyond what is permissible, according to The Village Green.

Maplewood resident James Nathenson penned a letter as well claiming that there was no substantial research or proof of the negative effects of leaf blowers.

In response to Nathenson’s claims Dean Dafis, a member of the Maplewood Green Team Advisory Committee, shared the report it developed and covered  both its research and interviews with landscapers. According to the report, landscapers admitted they didn’t need the leaf blowers in the summer aside from pleasing customers with neater yards.

While the main complaint against gas-powered blowers has been the noise and the pollution, most landscapers see the ban as ineffective for its goals, since it only prevents landscapers, not homeowners, from using leaf blowers

“If you’re going to say that we’re polluting the air, then everybody’s polluting the air,” Tom Venezia, owner of County to County Landscape & Masonry Contractors, told NJTV News. “If you’re going to say it’s a noise issue, then it’s a noise issue for everyone.”

The stakes have been raised for violators of the ban as well with the first offense resulting in a $500 fine. Second offenders are fined $1,000 and third time offenders are charged $1,500.

“Quite extreme,” Adams told NJTV News. “I think they were only $100 before, so we want these contractors to follow the law.”

It should be noted that electric leaf blowers are exempt from this current ban and the Township Committee only seems concerned with the removal of gas-powered blowers.

“I personally would like to see the gas leaf blower ban imposed on everyone who uses them,” Adams told NJTV News. “I don’t know if we have the political will for that.

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