Seasonal Leaf Blower Ban May Come To Village

The incessant whine of gas-powered leaf blowers has become part of the soundtrack of summertime life here, but if two proposed amendments to the code are adopted by the East Hampton Village Board, residents can expect some respite from the racket.

Mayor Paul Rickenbach said the village would likely hold a hearing May 17 on a proposal to ban the use by commercial landscapers of gas-powered leaf blowers on village property from June 1 to Labor Day each year. Commercial landscapers would also be prohibited from working before 8 AM or after 6 PM on weekdays or from 8 AM to 3 PM on Saturdays, with no work allowed on Sundays.

The board discussed the proposal on Friday, March 15, directing village attorney Linda Riley to tweak the wording of the measure so that a hearing notice can be ready for posting next month.

“This is a quality-of-life issue,” the mayor said, adding that the law could be adjusted as needed in the future. “We’re going to get there, I really believe that.”

The village is also considering a code amendment that would require landscapers to pay a $200 registration fee to the village and have a valid East Hampton Town home improvement contractor’s license.

Trustees had some questions about the proposal as written, with Barbara Borsack wanting the law clarified so that residents know they would not be breaking the law if they wanted to putter about their lawns and gardens. “If they are going to go and weed, there shouldn’t be an issue,” she said.

Riley said the amendment was drafted with the understanding that it would not apply to private property owners. The mayor agreed, saying “a man’s home is his castle” and residents should not be restricted from using power equipment on their own property.

However, Trustee Rosemary Brown said there should be some reasonable limits. “I don’t want to be too restrictive,” she said. “But I think we need some parameters. We certainly don’t want them out at 6 or 8 in the evening when it’s still light out.”

Landscaper Bill Fox thanked the village board for trying to work with businesses to prevent the law from becoming too onerous on them. “We’re having a conversation now,” he said. “It’s not like a bad guy-good guy thing.”

Trustee Richard Lawler said a board committee had worked with residents and businesses trying “to make this resolution something that is acceptable to everyone.”

Borsack added that for the law to work, the village will have to be prepared to enforce it.

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