Selectmen Favor Leaf-Blower Committee Over Fall Compromise

The Board of Selectmen unanimously agreed Monday that a proposed leaf-blower compromise wasn't ready for the Special Town Meeting on Oct. 10 and that a Town Meeting leaf-blower committee is the way to go.

After much deliberation Monday, the Board of Selectmen agreed to ask Town Meeting members to form a new leaf-blower committee at the instead of asking them to act on a new leaf-blower “compromise.”

At Monday’s meeting, board chairman Kevin Greeley brought forth a proposed warrant article (below), which was crafted from input at the first leaf-blower subcommittee meeting last week and replaced the seasonal ban on gas-powered leaf blowers with seasonal restrictions. However, after a lengthy discussion, the board unanimously voted to go the committee route instead, as selectmen, namely Daniel Dunn, believed the article needed “too many refinements.”

For one, Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine said the article, as proposed, would have been “very difficult to enforce” given its level of detail.

The new leaf-blower committee, which was first proposed by Town Meeting member Chris Loreti, of Precinct 7, in a Monday email to the board, would be tasked with bringing a compromise to a Special Town Meeting at the same time as the regular Town Meeting in the spring. The committee would continue the work done by the Selectmen’s leaf-blower subcommittee and be comprised of many of the same members, Greeley said.

The new committee, as proposed, would have a selectman, who would most likely be Diane Mahon, the four Town Meeting members and four members of the landscape association already serving on the Selectmen’s committee and four new “citizens at large,” he said. It appeared Chapdelaine, Director of Health and Human Services Christine Connolly, and Town Counsel Juliana Rice would also continue to attend the committee meetings in advisory roles.

On Monday, the board also unanimously recommended a vote of “no action” on the warrant article brought forth by .

Harrington’s article, which was endorsed by more than 200 registered voters, asks Town Meeting members to repeal the seasonal ban, which was passed at Town Meeting in April but has yet to take effect (it’s pending the approval of the state attorney general’s office). Even though the board voted “no action,” a substitute motion can be proposed from the floor at the Special Town Meeting.

Harrington spoke in favor of his article at Monday’s meeting, while Town Meeting member A. Michael Ruderman, of Precinct 9 and a member of the Selectmen’s leaf-blower subcommittee, spoke against it.

Dunn, also a Town Meeting member from Precinct 21, said he voted against the seasonal ban at Town Meeting and at the Special Election. “This is the first vote I’ve taken to support the leaf-blower ban,” he said of the “no action” vote.

“I think this requires patience,” he added. “I think we need to take our time. The current situation is what it is and we have enough time to remedy it.”

Earlier in the meeting, Ruderman told the board that the seasonal ban is already a “compromise,” as an outright, year-round ban is what was initially proposed at Town Meeting.

Curro said leaf blowers have been an “incredibly divisive issue.”

“One thing that’s been unfortunate is it’s torn the town apart,” he said.


The proposed warrant article (draft version) that board chairman Kevin Greeley brought forth at Monday’s meeting. Please note: the board decided to not have Town Meeting members act on the below article at the Special Town Meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 10.


VOTED: That Article 12 (“Noise Abatement”) of Title V of the Town Bylaws, as amended by the vote of the 2012 Annual Town Meeting under Article 25, be and hereby is amended by: (1) deleting from the end of Section 2(J) the words, “other than leaf blowers used on private property” and replacing them with the words, “other than gas-powered leaf blowers, which shall be subject to the restrictions set forth in Section 3(D), below.”; and (2) inserting the following Section 3(D) in place of any existing section 3(D):

D. Use of Gas-Powered Leaf Blowers

1. For purposes of this section only, the term, “leaf blowers” shall mean “gas-powered leaf blowers.”

2. The use of leaf blowers is prohibited between June 15th and September 15th except in accordance with the following restrictions, which shall not apply to the use of leaf blowers to perform emergency operations or for clean-up associated with storms, hurricanes and the like:

(a) The use of leaf blowers is prohibited on (i) Sundays and legal holidays except between the hours of 1:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.; (ii) Mondays through Fridays except between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.; and (iii) Saturdays except between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.

(b) No more than one leaf blower may be used on any lot of 6,000 square feet or smaller. One additional leaf blower may be used for each additional 6,000 square feet or portion thereof comprising one lot.

(c) Leaf blowers may be used for no more than 30 minutes at a time on any one lot.

3. At no time shall any leaf blower be used in such a way as to permit the distribution of leaves, dust, or other debris beyond the vertically extended lines of the property on which the leaf blower is being used.

4. Leaf blowers shall at all times be operated at the lowest possible practical speed necessary to accomplish the task for which they are being used.

5. As of June 15, 2014, or one year after the effective date of this Bylaw, whichever is later, no commercial landscaper, commercial landscape company, or other entity engaged in the business of providing yard clean-up and maintenance services for a fee shall use any leaf blower within the Town in the exercise of that business unless the manufacturer specifies that the sound emitted from said leaf blower is no greather than 77 dB(A) at full throttle.

Stephen September 25, 2012 at 11:37 AM
The leaf blower ban is a microcosm of what is wrong with our elected officials. Last night, the Selectmen spent over an hour congratulating themselves over a job (the Leaf Blower Committee) poorly done while they dismissed the wishes of 200+ residents (the petitioners) out of hand. The same thing may occur at Town Meeting when our "representatives" may ignore the will of over 5500 voters who, in the largest margin of any Town election, overwhelmingly voted to overturn the leaf blower ban.
Bob C September 25, 2012 at 03:02 PM
At least this proposal seems to be more reasonable in it's approach. I still favor dropping the ban altogether !
Wind Dummy 25 September 25, 2012 at 04:09 PM
Better get it together...Remember what Lexington went through not to long ago. Different issue but it wasted a lot of needless emotion and dollars. If there is no room for compromise all efforts are a waste of time. One thing I would suggest, anyone with a history of emotional rantings should be divorced from this. Cooler heads please.
Chris Fitch September 25, 2012 at 05:06 PM
I've been following the Great Arlington Leaf Blower Debate now for several years, and I am dismayed to learn that the restrictions that have been so hard won and put into place by our illustrious Town Meeting members last spring are being threatened by the actions of a cowardly few who apparently are being cowed into submission by the moneyed interests of the landscaper industry. Obviously the landscapers are not happy about the restrictions. Why would they be? However, I fail to see why they should be given special attention over that of the actual residents of our town who are subjected to the Mow-Blow-and-Go crews to the detriment of our standard of living and to that of our environment. Why is it that a small step toward the improvement of environmental and living conditions that has been fought for and won by people who just want peace and clean air is threatened by industrial interests that might be forced to adjust in the process? The legislation as it stands IS ALREADY a compromise! Furthermore, the scare tactics that the landscapers have used to corral their clients onto their side by threatening higher rates are not only disingenuous, but baloney! People tend to be frightened of change, but in this case, the change promises to be a good one for the town. Stephen's rehash of the article that was debated and put into action by TM is so diluted as to be equivalent to no restriction at all. Is this really a good faith effort at compromise?
Fred Gevalt September 25, 2012 at 07:02 PM
I think this issue is a metaphor for intolerance in our time, and busy body government. Small wonder it's controversial. The way it has been handled has been inadvertently inconsiderate of democratic values. Have a problem with your neighbor over noise? Go talk with him about it. Why do we depend on the town to police every irritation in our lives? How can we "self govern" at the national level if we can't even pull it off at the local level? 1) The town should have required a much larger referendum vote before acting - that would have saved some money and heartburn, because we would have found out how everybody felt before pulling the trigger - usually a smart political move. And if the despots who first requested the ban had some more constructive ideas as to how and when to allow everybody to use these things, those ideas should have been run up the "flagpole" as well. 2) The town should recognize that a lot of the noise is being created by commercial landscapers and not the citizenry per se, and act accordingly This topic is only going to be solved with some compromises. But it will have to involve all affected, I think. we need a vote on November 6th, not another committee. Fred Gevalt
Wind Dummy 25 September 25, 2012 at 09:59 PM
And yet Fred folks will spin it on capitalism, trashing the environment and then blaming the affected. I've said it also it's a neighbor on neighbor thing. Return to the original sin and fix it. Leave the town and the contractors out of this. What BS...I'll go for Nov 6th, 2-1 end of ball game on this, and no more committees. Sneaking that vote in mid summer with all that convolution? So uncool so typical.
Really! September 27, 2012 at 12:43 AM
No matter how Town Meeting votes on this, my greatest hope is that voters will gather enough signatures to hold a special town election to overturn the vote.
Henry David Thoreau September 27, 2012 at 05:38 PM
People, we are talking about leaf blowers not nuclear power plants. I watched the last meeting and heard someone express worry reguarding lead dust. Please let are elected officals attend to real problems, TAXES, EDUCATION, THE ELDERY.
Leslie S. October 01, 2012 at 07:51 PM
As I'm reading the above article and comments my brain is being rattled by incessant leaf blower noise. When will it stop?? All my windows are closed and I can't get a moment of peace on my afternoon off from work. Every single day it sounds like this as someone in close proximity to my living quarters is using a leaf blower. Overall, I find the noise pollution high and highly aggravating. In my opinion, it's worse than lawn mowers
Tim October 01, 2012 at 09:41 PM
Well Lesile I suggest you take a look at Vermont . I hear its pretty quiet up there.. YOU LIVE IN A CITY!!!
Vic October 01, 2012 at 10:54 PM
The world is imploding and Leslie is upset about leaf blowers. Close your window turn up your Grateful Dead album take a deep hit and relax Leslie. You are lucky if this is the biggest problem in your little world.
Wind Dummy 25 October 02, 2012 at 02:09 AM
The Iwo Jima Vet neighbor next door to me was very happy his lawn guys came by right on time today, since he can't walk anymore...Oddly it didn't bother me or anyone else a bit. They were here about 10-20 minutes I think, about the average time for and average lot. I confess I did make my annual deal with them to make a couple leaf visits this autumn for myself, SSHHHSS. 10-20 minutes visits, which would take me all afternoon on a hundred football Sundays. Why when I can do it myself, because I work everyday! I still do the tune-ups and of course the customarily unclog the sewer duty. Wonder when the last time Lesile cleared leaves, snow/ice from a sewer grate for the neighborhood good? Point is, if you must live around here please think outside your self for a second before you stinkeye everyone else...So neighborly. Go talk to them maybe there can be some compromise? You won't know unless you ask.
Wind Dummy 25 October 02, 2012 at 02:16 AM
Hey Tim! We agree on something other than bank robbery?! Good for you man!
Tim October 11, 2012 at 01:28 PM
Wind I tried but they want it all their way or nothing.....
Wind Dummy 25 October 11, 2012 at 08:53 PM
I'm hip Tim...Keep up the good fight!! Freedom from poor decisions and one sided pests...


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