A group of Arlington residents told the Board of Selectmen Monday night that they have already collected enough signatures to force a special election regarding .
The group, represented by longtime Town Meeting member George Laite and Black Diamond Landscapes’ Joseph Cusce Jr. at Monday’s meeting, plans to turn its petition in by Thursday’s deadline, the two men said.
“It’s the American way, it’s the democratic way, to let the voters decide,” said Laite, of Precinct 4.
The group’s petition will need valid signatures from at least three percent of all registered voters in Arlington by Thursday’s deadline in order to force the special election, according to Town Counsel Juliana Rice. Assuming that happens, after a five-day waiting period, the Board of Selectmen will be required to schedule a special election “forthwith,” or immediately, she said.
The special election would probably occur sometime in June, board chairman Kevin Greeley said.
Through the special election, Arlington residents could vote to repeal the controversial bylaw amendment, . However, in addition to winning the vote, opponents of the seasonal ban would also need at least 20 percent of registered voters to turn out at the polls; otherwise, the seasonal ban, which probably won’t take effect until next year, will remain intact.
For comparison’s sake, , which featured hotly contested races for both the Board of Selectmen and School Committee, had about a 26 percent turnout. Polls would only be open from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. during the special election, Rice said.
Regardless of the special election, the Board of Selectmen, at the request of Greeley, is planning to establish a committee to explore the leaf-blower issue over the next year. Greeley said his hope is that the committee will come back to Town Meeting next spring with a compromise (possibly restrictions instead of an outright seasonal ban).
Greeley had asked the board to consider putting a “leaf blower ballot question” on the Town Elections ballot next spring. However, the idea failed to gain the support of the board and was defeated in a 4-1 vote. The ballot question would have been non-binding.
Greeley said, based on conversations he’s had, he believes a “majority of Arlingtonians are not in favor of this ban.” However, he said he could be wrong. Personally, he said he’s against it, calling it “too dramatic of a step to take right away.”