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Selectmen Reluctantly Schedule Special Town Meeting on Seasonal Leaf-Blower Ban

With 'hands tied,' selectmen called the meeting for Wednesday, Oct. 10.

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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Do you agree with Selectman Steven Byrne that the Special Town Meeting is a “waste of town resources”? Or is it Democracy in action? Let us know by posting a comment below.

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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.

Mark Kaepplein September 14, 2012 at 05:42 PM
Donald, the town presents one point of view at http://ArlingtonMA.gov/massave. Town media outlets can be searched for articles, SaveMassAve.net and .com oppose lane removal, while the group East Arlington Livable Streets and Adam Auster favor bike lanes replacing a travel lane and both have web sites. There is also endless reading in the Arlington mailing list archives, arlingtonlist.org Mass Ave has operated as two lanes for the 50 years since streetcar tracks were paved over. The tracks could be driven over, so also used for left turns, passing, and going around double-parked delivery trucks or other vehicles. I think not painting lanes has helped Mass Ave stay safer than average for an urban arterial. Drivers are encouraged to be more attentive and flexible in space use to handle situations. The plan calls for a more rigid, ubiquitous design.
Mark Kaepplein September 14, 2012 at 05:48 PM
Oops correct this: "Mass Ave has operated as two lanes for the 50 years since streetcar tracks were paved over." Its been marked as two lanes, but mostly operated as four lanes. At congested periods, its definitely four lanes. Without much traffic, lane position gets relaxed.
Fred Gevalt September 15, 2012 at 04:17 PM
The most obnoxious aspect of "the ban" is the history of its origin - one or two whining members, presumably, of the "despotic" party are given the floor by town officials, and lo and behold, a few months later here we sit, having spent thousands of tax dollars, unable to legally clean our yards in a "town" that with respect to conceding to special interests behaves a little more like Rahm Emanuel's "city" each passing year. Here's an idea for all those who would subvert or strain the democratic process - start all over again with a town referendum ballot on this issue on November sixth. The town's marginal cost would be nothing, and it would get a clear picture about how its citizens and property owners really feel. And here's a suggestion for the vocal few who started this: grow up. If you have a problem with the noise from your neighbor, go talk to him about it. Don't depend on the rest of us (the town) to institutionalize and police a solution to your petty irritations that could better be handled with a personal knock on his door and a discussion. In this country the end does not justify the means. The means are the end. Fred Gevalt
Donald Mei September 16, 2012 at 05:11 AM
Thanks Mark, I live in east Arlington and wouldn't consider it to be any more live able if you reduce Mass Ave's capacity by 50%. Oh wait, they will add a bike lane. Mass Ave is plenty wide for bike traffic also. If people would just use their signals and watch where they are going. A little lane discipline wouldn't hurt either. ( if you are going to plod along at 15 mph trying to keep your prius in electric mode PLEASE stay right!). And if you are afraid to mix it up with cars, then slide over one block to the minuteman. Which leads me to another thing. If you are older than te, you shouldn't be riding your bike on the sidewalk. I walk with my 3 and 4 year olds on the sidewalk. Get back in the road where you belong, or leave the bike at home. End of rant
Ron September 16, 2012 at 01:50 PM
Does anyone know how is responsible for the ban and what neighborhood do gas powered blowers run all day? Who was so irritated with hearing gas powered leaf blowers during business hours and how where they able to get Officials in this town to act? I don't see anyone's picture in any paper or blog taking credit for getting this ban done.

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