The Board of Selectmen scheduled a Special Town Meeting Monday to address Arlington’s seasonal ban on gas-powered leaf blowers, but make no mistake, they didn’t want to.
“If there was anyway I could vote against this, I certainly would,” Selectman Steven Byrne said before the vote, which set the meeting for Wednesday, Oct. 10. “I find this (Special Town Meeting) to be a waste of town resources.”
Byrne’s sentiments were echoed by his colleagues.
“I wish I could vote against it too,” the board’s chairman, Kevin Greeley, said, “but our hands our tied.”
The board had to call the Special Town Meeting because of , a Town Meeting member from Precinct 13.
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Harrington’s petition, which had 204 valid signatures from registered voters (four more than were needed), represents the second attempt to repeal the controversial ban, .
A group of landscapers in May to force a Special Election. At the Special Election, which took place July 19, opponents of the ban won the vote by a 2-to-1 margin but , as state law required them to get at least 5,780 “No” votes, which represented 20 percent of Arlington’s 28,898 registered voters.
Harrington submitted his petition a day after to review the ban and work out a compromise.
Byrne called the committee approach the “right move.”
Selectman Daniel Dunn agreed.
“This is a time to talk about these things and get them right,” he said.
Dunn said he was “very frustrated and disappointed” with Harrington’s decision to submit the petition. Selectman Joseph Curro Jr. said Harrington’s decision was “very unfortunate.”
Greeley said the committee, which was set up at his request, will still meet and come up with a separate warrant article – one that’s more of a compromise – for the Special Town Meeting. He had been planning to submit a similar article, but not until next spring.
Greeley said he asked Harrington to attend Monday’s meeting. Harrington was not there.
In addition to the selectmen’s comments, Jeremy Marin, a Town Meeting member from Precinct 16 and a strong proponent of the ban, emailed the following statement after hearing of Harrington’s petition:
“Arlington has underfunded schools, public safety departments and cannot afford new helmets for team sports, yet after spending $30,000 of taxpayers money we’re being forced to spend thousands more to avoid using rakes – for a few months when leaves aren’t even on the ground,” he wrote.
The Special Town Meeting had to be scheduled for within 45 days of when Harrington submitted his petition.
The Special Town Meeting Warrant will be open Tuesday, Sept. 18, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Residents need 100 signatures from registered voters in order to place an article on the warrant.
The seasonal ban, which has yet to take effect (it’s pending the approval of the state attorney general’s office), prohibits the leaf blowers on private property from May 15 to Oct. 15.