15 Sep 2014
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Selectmen Favor Leaf-Blower Committee Over Fall Compromise

The Board of Selectmen unanimously agreed Monday that a proposed leaf-blower compromise wasn't ready for the Special Town Meeting on Oct. 10 and that a Town Meeting leaf-blower committee is the way to go.

Selectmen Favor Leaf-Blower Committee Over Fall Compromise

After much deliberation Monday, the Board of Selectmen agreed to ask Town Meeting members to form a new leaf-blower committee at the instead of asking them to act on a new leaf-blower “compromise.”

At Monday’s meeting, board chairman Kevin Greeley brought forth a proposed warrant article (below), which was crafted from input at the first leaf-blower subcommittee meeting last week and replaced the seasonal ban on gas-powered leaf blowers with seasonal restrictions. However, after a lengthy discussion, the board unanimously voted to go the committee route instead, as selectmen, namely Daniel Dunn, believed the article needed “too many refinements.”

For one, Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine said the article, as proposed, would have been “very difficult to enforce” given its level of detail.

The new leaf-blower committee, which was first proposed by Town Meeting member Chris Loreti, of Precinct 7, in a Monday email to the board, would be tasked with bringing a compromise to a Special Town Meeting at the same time as the regular Town Meeting in the spring. The committee would continue the work done by the Selectmen’s leaf-blower subcommittee and be comprised of many of the same members, Greeley said.

The new committee, as proposed, would have a selectman, who would most likely be Diane Mahon, the four Town Meeting members and four members of the landscape association already serving on the Selectmen’s committee and four new “citizens at large,” he said. It appeared Chapdelaine, Director of Health and Human Services Christine Connolly, and Town Counsel Juliana Rice would also continue to attend the committee meetings in advisory roles.

On Monday, the board also unanimously recommended a vote of “no action” on the warrant article brought forth by .

Harrington’s article, which was endorsed by more than 200 registered voters, asks Town Meeting members to repeal the seasonal ban, which was passed at Town Meeting in April but has yet to take effect (it’s pending the approval of the state attorney general’s office). Even though the board voted “no action,” a substitute motion can be proposed from the floor at the Special Town Meeting.

Harrington spoke in favor of his article at Monday’s meeting, while Town Meeting member A. Michael Ruderman, of Precinct 9 and a member of the Selectmen’s leaf-blower subcommittee, spoke against it.

Dunn, also a Town Meeting member from Precinct 21, said he voted against the seasonal ban at Town Meeting and at the Special Election. “This is the first vote I’ve taken to support the leaf-blower ban,” he said of the “no action” vote.

“I think this requires patience,” he added. “I think we need to take our time. The current situation is what it is and we have enough time to remedy it.”

Earlier in the meeting, Ruderman told the board that the seasonal ban is already a “compromise,” as an outright, year-round ban is what was initially proposed at Town Meeting.

Curro said leaf blowers have been an “incredibly divisive issue.”

“One thing that’s been unfortunate is it’s torn the town apart,” he said.

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The proposed warrant article (draft version) that board chairman Kevin Greeley brought forth at Monday’s meeting. Please note: the board decided to not have Town Meeting members act on the below article at the Special Town Meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 10.

ARTICLE 2

VOTED: That Article 12 (“Noise Abatement”) of Title V of the Town Bylaws, as amended by the vote of the 2012 Annual Town Meeting under Article 25, be and hereby is amended by: (1) deleting from the end of Section 2(J) the words, “other than leaf blowers used on private property” and replacing them with the words, “other than gas-powered leaf blowers, which shall be subject to the restrictions set forth in Section 3(D), below.”; and (2) inserting the following Section 3(D) in place of any existing section 3(D):

D. Use of Gas-Powered Leaf Blowers

1. For purposes of this section only, the term, “leaf blowers” shall mean “gas-powered leaf blowers.”

2. The use of leaf blowers is prohibited between June 15th and September 15th except in accordance with the following restrictions, which shall not apply to the use of leaf blowers to perform emergency operations or for clean-up associated with storms, hurricanes and the like:

(a) The use of leaf blowers is prohibited on (i) Sundays and legal holidays except between the hours of 1:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.; (ii) Mondays through Fridays except between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.; and (iii) Saturdays except between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.

(b) No more than one leaf blower may be used on any lot of 6,000 square feet or smaller. One additional leaf blower may be used for each additional 6,000 square feet or portion thereof comprising one lot.

(c) Leaf blowers may be used for no more than 30 minutes at a time on any one lot.

3. At no time shall any leaf blower be used in such a way as to permit the distribution of leaves, dust, or other debris beyond the vertically extended lines of the property on which the leaf blower is being used.

4. Leaf blowers shall at all times be operated at the lowest possible practical speed necessary to accomplish the task for which they are being used.

5. As of June 15, 2014, or one year after the effective date of this Bylaw, whichever is later, no commercial landscaper, commercial landscape company, or other entity engaged in the business of providing yard clean-up and maintenance services for a fee shall use any leaf blower within the Town in the exercise of that business unless the manufacturer specifies that the sound emitted from said leaf blower is no greather than 77 dB(A) at full throttle.

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