Town Meeting voted Monday to ban the use of gas-powered leaf blowers from May 15 to Oct. 15 on private property in Arlington.
The town bylaw amendment was put forth by Town Meeting member Robert Radochia as a substitute motion under Article 25 at the beginning of Monday’s session. After 15 minutes of debate, it carried 95-85 in a standing vote, after it was originally declared defeated by Town Moderator John Leone in a voice vote.
The vote to consider Radochia’s substitute motion under Article 25 passed by an even slimmer margin, 84-81.
Radochia, of Precinct 11, said he saw his substitute motion as a compromise between members who wanted to maintain the status quo and not prohibit the use of gas-powered leaf blowers and those who wanted to implement the year-round ban, . Between May 15 and Oct. 15, there aren’t many leaves, he said.
After deciding to consider Radochia’s substitute motion under Article 25, members chose not to consider Band’s (the two motions would’ve been somewhat at odds).
Article 25 was initially inserted by Band. However, it failed to get the support of the Board of Selectmen, which is why a substitute motion was needed for Town Meeting to act.
Band and member Jeremy Marin, of Precinct 16, in favor of the year-round ban. They said gas-powered leaf blowers create noise pollution, are a health risk and are bad for the environment. They also said that they are unnecessary for Arlington’s relatively small yards.
‘Extremism at its worst’
However, opponents of Band’s substitute motion said that any ban would be going too far. Member Maria Romano, of Precinct 7, reiterated this point Monday.
“This is extremism at its worst,” she said in a passionate address to Town Meeting.
“It is not your right to tell others how to live,” Romano added.
She also accused Band and Marin of fear mongering.
Town Meeting had defeated a similar leaf-blower article in 2008.
On Monday, the standing vote showed that 180 of Town Meeting’s 245 members (there are seven vacancies), or 73 percent of the body, voted on the town bylaw amendment.
As for life without gas-powered leaf blowers: “Ten minutes with a broom or rake is very therapeutic for the body and mind,” Radochia told Town Meeting members light heartedly.
The fines associated with violating one of the town’s bylaws cannot exceed $20 unless otherwise stated, Town Counsel Juliana Rice said last session.
On Monday, Town Meeting members also approved all town budgets, Article 40, in a unanimous vote.
With seven sessions (21 hours) in the books, Town Meeting has now addressed 49 of 72 articles on the Town Meeting Warrant, leaving 23 to go when they reconvene Wednesday. Leone said if members work “diligently” on Wednesday, they might be able to finish.