We have a special Town Meeting scheduled for October 10th to once again consider the "leaf blower ban" passed by the last Town Meeting.
When this article came up at Town Meeting last, I voted against it.
I felt then, and still feel now, that a ban is too severe a method to deal with the problems that leaf blowers have caused.
Those problems are real.
We have seen examples of leaf blowers being used in ways that do infringe upon other peoples rights.
People have legitimate, if still hotly debated, concerns over pollution.
People have legitimate reasons for being opposed to the noise created when these devices are used in close proximity (often less than a few feet) from their home.
There is a legitimate issue involved in curbing the practice of leaf blower operators "sweeping" debris into public streets, in violation of (but largely unenforceable) town law.
However I do not feel - it has not been proven to me yet - that these real concerns prevent leaf blowers from being used responsibly, in a way that avoids these issues.
Because of this, I believe that a ban (or even a seasonal restriction) should not be the preferred method of dealing with these issues.
So what should we do? I approach this issue with the following thoughts:
If we simply repeal this ban as the opponents want, and not replace it with something that addresses the issues people have, we’ll be right back dealing with this issue again very soon.
Those that want to see the problems addressed are not going to give up and walk away, just because they lose this round.
If we leave this ban in place, the opponents are also not going to stop trying to repeal it.
We will have more articles introduced to overturn the bylaw, more special Town Meetings, and so on.
Town Meeting must pass something that deals with the real issues people do have, but tempers the approach so that we manage to curb the behavior that needs to be addressed, while permitting the responsible use of these machines.
Based on my discussions with supporters and opponents of the ban, I believe that the supporters are willing to accept a different approach, something other than a ban.
However, were we to repeal this "ban," I am not confident that opponents would accept any future restrictions.
We are talking about regulating the use of a machine, and there is an inherent interest among many, especially the landscape businesses, to avoid any regulation.
So long as this law is in place they are motivated to come to the table and work something out.
Once the current law is repealed, they lose that motivation.
It is my intent to not vote to repeal the bylaw, until such a solution is passed.
I hope to see a solution proposed at this special Town Meeting that addresses the issues people have, while eliminating anything like a ban.
If we don’t come up with a solution that adequately deals with the issues people have, we’ll be faced with this debate for the foreseeable future, until we do.
And if we repeal this ban without a solution, we’ll find it even more difficult to bring the necessary parties to the table, and put this issue behind us for good.
If you have thoughts or ideas on this, please share them with me. I am interested, and I want to see a solution - more importantly an end - to this predicament.