Despite taking Thursday’s vote by more than a 2-to-1 margin, opponents of Arlington’s seasonal ban on gas-powered leaf blowers, which was passed at Town Meeting in April, fell 241 “No” votes shy of repealing the ban.
State law required opponents to get at least 5,780 “No” votes, which represents 20 percent of Arlington’s 28,898 registered voters, in order to overturn the action of Town Meeting. Instead, they got 5,539, or roughly 68 percent of the 8,158 votes cast. There were 2,619 “Yes” votes.
Thursday’s Special Election had 28 percent voter turnout overall. By comparison, April’s Town Elections, which featured hotly contested races for both the Board of Selectmen and School Committee, as well as numerous Town Meeting member races due to redistricting, had about a 26 percent turnout.
Polls were only open from 2 to 8 p.m. for the Special Election, instead of the normal 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. However, 1,402 absentee ballots were cast before Thursday’s vote.
A microburst also hit East Arlington Wednesday evening, downing trees and wires and knocking out power to a solid portion of the area.
Of Arlington’s 21 precincts, only Precinct 8, which runs along Pleasant Street (Route 60) from Arlington Center to Route 2, had more “Yes” votes than “No” votes on Thursday, 235-233. Precinct 13, which borders Winchester, was also notable, with a 44 percent turnout and 84 percent of those voters opposing the ban.
The special election was triggered by a citizen petition, not the Board of Selectmen. It was expected to cost the town between $25,000 and $30,000, according to Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine.
Residents were asked to vote on the following question:
“Shall the town vote to approve the action of the representative town meeting whereby it was voted to amend the Town Bylaws to prohibit the use of gas-powered leaf blowers on private property between May 15th and October 15th by a vote of 95 in the affirmative to 85 in the negative.”