Leaf blowers have recently been causing quite a ruckus in residential communities across the country. For some, gas-powered leaf blowers continue to be a necessary and commonplace landscaping appliance. For many others, the use of these outmoded tools is entirely unacceptable due to:
- The aggravating, potentially unhealthy, amount of noise they generate;
- The staggering levels of pollution they emit; and
- The negative effect they have on natural ecosystems.
Community members from Naples to Boston to Greenwich have taken action to stifle the use of gas-powered leaf blowers, favoring their electric counterparts. California seems to be the most aggressive. A new law in California bans the sale of new gas-powered leaf blowers and lawn mowers beginning in 2024 in line with its broader goal to transition to 100% zero-emission off-road vehicles and equipment by 2035. This article sheds light on how some of New Canaan’s surrounding towns are addressing gas-powered leaf blowers (GLBs).
Leaf blower bans underway in Fairfield and Westport Counties
While many communities have jumped on implementing legislation, others seem to be stuck in “debate-mode.” The tables below illustrates some of the proposed and passed legislation in a select number of communities near New Canaan.
Here are some links to the regulations included in the above table. (All the information was compiled as of 2/9/22)
What are New Canaan’s current noise ordinances?
The New Canaan Ordinance Providing for Noise Pollution Control, last updated in 2006, declares that persons in the town of New Canaan have a right to an environment free from excessive and intrusive noise that can negatively affect public health, safety, convenience, general welfare, and quality of life. The ordinance is to be enforced by the New Canaan Police Department, who are authorized to issue infraction tickets to violators.
The ordinance holds that for motorized equipment powered by electricity or gasoline (including leaf blowers):
- These machines may only be operated:
- Monday-Friday: 7am-7pm
- Saturdays & State/ Federal Holidays: 8am-6pm
- Sundays: 10am-4pm
- The machines may never exceed 45 dBa, as measured at the receptor’s property line
Concerns about bans…
While the reasons why restrictions against gas-powered leaf blowers may be obvious, different stakeholders have voiced concerns regarding the proposed changes. Here are some points of concern about limiting GLBs (link for the below information).
Less capacity may translate into more time using leaf blowers
- Some worry that the leaf-blowing capacity with electric blowers is diminished due to weaker push force and shortened running time. The concern is that this would require landscape workers to spend more time on each job.
- Some question whether the proposals make sense. For instance, with respect to the limit on the number of blowers per property, the Director of Public Works of Westport wonders, “Is it better to have three leaf blowers operating for 15 minutes, or one for an hour and a half?
Concern about effective getting the municipal work done
- Some government officials and agencies worry that restrictions would impact their normal municipal maintenance operations, such as cleaning sidewalks and conducting storm cleanups.
Enforcement has complexities
- Westport’s Chief of Police, Foti Koskinas, worries about the complexities involved in enforcing leaf-blower ordinances. He refers specifically to the potential negative effects enforcement could have on individual landscapers as well as the fact that police would need documentation that indicates what kind of blower is being used in order to enforce the ordinance.
What’s Next for New Canaan
Let us know what you think about this issue, and what you think New Canaan should do. We expect that the issue of leaf-blowers will be heating up — or getting louder — in the near future…
Meet our Guest Blogger Mariana Ferreira. A recent graduate of Boston College and 2018 graduate of New Canaan High School.