Police Blotter

Permanent, Unmanned Leaf Blowers Cause Unrest in the Hamptons

New systems generate as much sound as four or five handheld blowers.

The Hamptons Police said this week that its officers had responded to several complaints of prolonged leaf blowing noise in a couple of different neighborhoods.

“There is as yet no law against leaf blowers,” Hamptons Police spokesman Larry Hirsch says. “However, when the sound of them goes on for hours and hours, as we were told it had been in these cases, then there is some cause for investigation.”

According to Hirsch, officers found upon investigation a surprising new development in the mania for debris-free lawns. “These homeowners have installed permanent blowers,” Hirsch says. “They require no human operator, but are tubes, like the tubes on handheld leaf blowers, that pump air at high pressure and blow leaves and other debris off of the yards and into the street or neighboring properties.”

Officers noticed that some of the newly installed tubes were freestanding, rising out of the grass, while others jutted out of structures on the properties in question. The systems are powered by single, powerful gas-fueled air compressors that generate as much sound as four or five handheld leaf blowers combined.

“The tubes appear to be fully retractable, so they are only visible when the system is turned on,” Hirsch adds. “Visually they present no serious problem when they’re turned off.”

According to neighbors, the problem is that the systems seem to be running almost continuously. “We used to find it surprising that there would be workers over there on a Tuesday blowing leaves when the owners weren’t even due back until Friday,” said one neighbor who called police about the noise but preferred to remain anonymous. “Why would it matter to them whether there were a few leaves on the ground while they weren’t home?”

Now, with the new system installed, the neighbor says the noise is almost constant. “The system powers up on Monday morning and I swear it’s on all week until Friday, generating exhaust fumes, a tremendous racket, and blowing all manner of dust into the air. It’s unbearable.”

According to Hirsch, Hamptons police tried to contact the offending homeowners to ask them to adopt a more judicious approach to lawn maintenance with their new systems. Hirsch says, “We thought we could convince them to set the systems to power up on Friday afternoons so their properties would be clear when they get here Friday evenings.”

But their requests met with resistance from the homeowners. “Their lawyers say their clients have paid big bucks for these new leaf-removal systems and intend to use them as they like.”

Now neighbors are in the process of acquiring legal counsel of their own.

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