Thursday, January 17, 2008


Review of Leaf Blower Impact
January 15, 2008
The Conservation Advisory Council (CAC) was requested by Supervisor Feiner to study the impact of leaf blowers in the community and make recommendations as to how and if the existing Town of Greenburgh regulations of leaf blowers should be changed.
The existing law regulates the noise level generated by leaf blowers and other equipment and sources.
§ 380-7. Prohibited acts and associated sounds.
H. The operation of gasoline-powered power lawn mowers, leaf blowers or other gasoline-powered lawn or garden equipment or construction tools between the hours of 8:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m. any weekday, before 9:00 a.m. or after 6:00 p.m. Saturday or any holiday or before 11:00 a.m. or after 6:00 p.m. Sunday. Operation of a gasoline-powered power lawn mower, leaf blower or other gasoline-powered lawn or garden equipment or construction tool in a residential zone may not exceed 75 dBA at any time. Operation of gasoline-powered leaf and garden blowers in excess of 55 dBA is prohibited from May 1 through October 1 of each year
The CAC considered information obtained from the following sources.
• Scientific commentary on the negative health effects of leaf blowers
• Scientific commentary on the negative environmental effects of leaf blowers
• Letters sent to the City Council of Yonkers identifying the negative effects of particulate pollution caused by leaf blowers
• Letters sent to Supervisor Feiner by Greenburgh residents complaining about leaf blower noise levels
• Public comment offered at the July 8, 2007 CAC meeting
• Laws regulating the use of leaf blowers in other Westchester communities
• Westchester Co. laws regulating the use of leaf blowers
• Chief John A. Kapica’s response to CAC inquiries about noise code enforcement history and problems
The CAC concluded that there are significant negative effects to health and the environment associated with the use of leaf blowers. Health is impacted negatively by;
1. Deteriorated air quality resulting from engine exhaust,
2. Deteriorated air quality resulting from particulates blown into the air,
3. Hearing deterioration resulting from exposure to loud noise,
4. Increased health issues associated with exposure to loud noise.
The environment is impacted negatively by;
5. Carbon exhaust that contribute to global warming,
6. The impediment of the formation of organic materials necessary to regenerate the soil, thus impeding the promotion of healthy vegetation useful to control flooding and water purification.
The CAC’s review established that all surrounding communities regulate the use of leaf blowers. The use of leaf blowers is completely banned during the summer month in Scarsdale, Mamaroneck, Larchmont, Pelham and Yonkers. The negative effects are greatest in hot humid weather. There exist alternatives for ground maintenance that can be used during the summer months. It should be remembered that prior to the 1970’s there were no leaf blowers.
During the time of the CAC’s study Westchester County adopted legislation regulating exhaust levels of leaf blowers. By 2009 almost all leaf blowers will have to be in compliance. The county law wouldn’t apply to landscapers who only do commercial properties. It does not apply to home owners. The CAC believes this law will mitigate negative effects one and five.
The CAC believes the only way to mitigate the remaining negative effects is to reduce the use of leaf blowers. An all out ban during the summer months would cause the least inconvenience and provide the greatest benefit. Chief Kapica has indicated that a complete ban would be the easiest to enforce.
At its June 11, 2007 meeting, the CAC voted to recommend that the Town have a total ban on the use of leaf blowing equipment from June 1 to September 30. After the review of additional information, the CAC at its meeting on Dec. 10, 2007 again voted to recommend the total ban from June 1 to September 30, The CAC hopes that the Town Board will adopt this recommendation swiftly so that it can be implemented for the 2008 landscaping contract period.


Anonymous said...

Banning them on Ozone Action Days would be sensible, but beyond that it's just too much government interference.

Is dumb. said...

I must be dumb but, how many blowers are used in the Summer months? I doubt many since there are no leaves to blow.

I'm more concerned about the giant, gas mowers running all day on weekends and holidays. I can never enjoy my yard anymore. When inside, I have to close all of my windows to get relief. The noise is deafening!

Can't we have one day on a weekend when these mowers are not allowed to be run? I'm not sure how banning leaf blowers, since they are not used during the Summer months, will make any difference.

Anonymous said...

A lot of residents cannot afford landscapers so they have to do lawn work when they are home from their jobs.
Instead of looking into blowers what you should have lookedinto bagging leaves.
This will help those who do the work themselves.
Why should a home owner that works five and sometimes six days a week be the one who cannot clean up his property.
If the DPW did the job that they were supposed to do leaves would not be flying all over the place.
I have no trees on my property but I am forced to clean up every week.
When leaves are put to the curbs and the DPW takes their time for a pick up the piles should be covered as to not to blow all over the place.
These people that complain about noise should move up the line where there is peace and tranquility or they should buy themselves ear plugs.
Why should those that cannot afford employing a landscaper be put in a position just to satisfy
a certain few.
Come up with laws that have been proposed many times before you ban leafblowers.
The only thing is that the town is afraid to challenge the rich with gardners so they go after the ones that cannot afford employing a gardner to do the work.

Anonymous said...

Don't the law makers have anything else to do,but try to enrage the poor people that have to do their own cleanups.
I work six days a week which means that I have to do all my leaf pickups on Sunday.
Leaves that come from other peoples property.
I too have no trees but yet you would think that my home was tree bound.
Have the leaves bagged to prevent what we experience each and every year and maybe the blowers would not have to be used.
For some reason or another the lawmakers in Greenburgh are afraid to pass a bagging law which will serve many purposes.
The town is just looking at the rich areas where they all have gardeners.
Why do you give out leaf bags,is it just a big joke on your part.
You try the system once if it doesn't work you go back to the disgusting way that it is now with dirty streets ,broken curbs and ruined lawns.

Anonymous said...

Wait, change a law in Greenbuugh? How will everyone know about and follow it perfectly in the first two weeks perfectly? The EHA snow parking recension shows we can never change a law in Greenburgh ever again - it will be changed back after two weeks without a real trial period.

hal samis said...

The real problem lies more with the CAC which makes a lot of noise, blows a lot of air and just rearranges the mess from an even ground covering to one enormous pile -- then "leaves" it to rot.

To be honest, leaf blowers are not my interest. I live in an apartment complex and am annoyed when the gardening crew generates noise in cutting the grass AND blowing the leaves. But I can get over it.

However, if you want to call this a problem (see the pseudo science) then DEAL with it and deal with it in its ENTIRETY. Not the half-assed way that the CAC offers. If it is a genuine problem then it is more an irksome problem in the months of October, November and December when a leaf blower is meant to be used but the time period which is excluded by this CAC farce. A leaf blower can and is used to blow other materials such as grass cuttings but hint: it is called a leaf blower because that is what it was created to do. Problem -- how to collect fallen leaves with minimal effort.
Solution -- market a leaf blower.

Of course I don't own one but I'm betting that the instructions say something like "aim the nozzle at the leaves on the ground and..."

Problem ignored by the CAC is that the leaves appear on the ground AFTER the proposed ban period ends.

OK, OK, the CAC are really well-meaning people who are a protected species, like the Library Trustees, because they are VOLUNTEERS. And because they tell us they are well-meaning, they also don't want to create any laws which would offend anyone so that is why they offer a law that is meaningless; the Greenburgh take on the locking the barn door after the cows...

With their latest effort (from those wonderful folks who brought you the tree cutting laws, well not exactly brought you laws) comes another chance for snaring the brass ring.
However, like the two years in the making but hastily withdrawn tree laws, this newest charade is not even brass but lead.

After you read the Supervisor's posting and see that this endeavor was not presumed to be a frivolous undertaking, you have to wonder how the train ran off the track.

Knowing who the engineers are is part of the problem. Knowing that committees and boards like this give the whole idea of volunteer service a bad name is also part of the problem. Like the Town's budget problems and the false sense of security that the Fund Balance provided, having a surfeit of volunteers who are desirous of serving on multiple committees is not the solution. More likely it presages the problem. Filling advisory boards and committees with the required number of bodies (Quantity) just doesn't seem to be working (Library Trustees, Ethics Board, various land use committees, etc) and it only bold faces the need for Quality membership. Perhaps the new look at Greenburgh should include mid-term reviews of those who serve on the various committees and boards.
They don't get paid but they don't produce either. It is time to cut loose the divas and dilettantes that like the appearance of these "titles" on their calling cards or resumes. However, unlike "A Chorus Line", the CAC rating reads: "Looks - 10, Dance - 3".

Not all volunteers fall under this blanket. It is just that, like Edgemont civic leaders, those that generate the most noise are often the least representative or progressive. Capacity in the wayback machine needs to be reduced if Greenburgh is ever to move with the times.

Anonymous said...

The people who are complaining about leaves, although they claim to have no trees, are cracking me up.

Perhaps one of you is my neighbor who,at least 3 times a week (summer & Fall & Winter) comes out with your blower and blows the leaves back into your surrounding neighbors yards usually at dinner time and 8 am in the morning. When the leaves become too great, you scoop them up & deposit them back on the adjacent properties.

Life is too short, so when I watch you do this, I just laugh at you. I have had to pay my landscaper extra to clean up the mess you leave me as I am unable to do the work myself. So, you blow 3 times a week,(like once a week ain't enough?) and cause me to have my guy come & blow again, the same damn leaves. You waste energy, pollute the air, create unnecessary noise, and cost me money. I'm sure you make more money then me. Your vehicles are a tip off.

I know that you enjoy the beautiful Spring, Summer & Falls views of the surrounding foliage from your home and that your home has increased value because of your surroundings. Maybe you should lobby that Greenburgh law require that all trees be removed.

You and people like you are idiots. You should move to the desert where there are no trees and you can happily make as much noise as you like.

Anonymous said...

I am not your neighbor but I must say if you permit your neighbors to blow the leaves on your property whose the fool.
I"m complaining about that we will not be able to use a blower on the only day that I have off from work which is Sunday.
Yes I do put up with my neighbors leaves that blow unto my property when there is high winds.
What I resent is that the town will not pass an ordinance that all leaves should be bagged.
If this were to happen your neighbors will not be able to blow the leaves on your property.

Anonymous said...

I may make more money than you but I still have a horse and buggy.

Anonymous said...

I agree. The leaves should be bagged.

I STILL have 4 piles of leaves that were not picked up by DPW and since I have a large wooded property, my neighbors continue to contribute to these piles hoping I don't care, assume that they "may" be my leaves or I don't see them. Good grief. On nice days, I go out and bag what I can.

The piles are ugly, have killed any growing grass underneath and are a haven for tics.

I'm all for bagging only.

Anonymous said...

Home ownere that take care of their own property should not be subjected to leaves coming from other properties because the town is not doing the job correctly'BAG THE LEAVES WHICH COULD BE PICKED UP WHEN THE YARD WASTE IS PICKED UP.
Sorry if you are afraid to take this idea on but that will be the only solution to save a lot of overtime ,cleaner roadways,no damage done to people lawns,and above all no shrinking roadways.
Most of the roadways are two lanes with all the piles of leaves the roads become one.
Where is the safety .
Sit down with your most intellegent DPW commissioner and go over this plan on a trial basis.
Some of us bag why not all of us.
I like to bag my leaves not my neighbors along side accross the roadway.
I do not get paid by the town to do this nor do I get overtime when I have more on my property than they have.
Many people have allergies in leaving the leaves along the
roadsides is putting an extra burden on their health.
Let's see how this will be handled.
All our other complaints have gone on deaf ears.
Another question why does the town give free bags to home owners.
PAss the law if it does not show an improvemrnt it could always be cancelled.
How many curbs must be put up,how many lawns must be reseeded,how much does this all costs.

Anonymous said...

Paul has anyone checked the roadways throughout Greenburgh how filthy they are.
I don't think so.
The town gives out leaf bags Why?
Maybe you will be giving home owners brooms to clean up in front of their properties.
This is a disgrace.
All this could be avoided if a law would be passed to have leaves bagged.
Your department head doesn't care what the streets look like. These are not county streets they belong to the town of Greenburgh and they should be maintained properly.