A proposal calling for a seasonal ban on the use of gas-powered leaf blowers in Marblehead was defeated by less than 100 votes at Town Meeting Tuesday night.
The majority of those gathered at Marblehead Veterans Middle School voted in favor of indefinitely postponing the seasonal ban, which would have run from Sept. 15 to May 15, by a margin of 285 to 211.
Prior to opening the floor to comments from the public, the article's sponsor and longtime resident Christopher Bergonzi used his time at the podium to challenge opponents to dispute the health risks associated with gas-powered leaf blowers.
"I and many others believe that the use of leaf blowers in Marblehead has become increasingly excessive and incessant and poses serious health risks to the community," Bergonzi said. "This is not just a quality of life issue or a nuisance issue - this is a public health issue."
Bergonzi went on to argue that leaf blowers pose a health risk to local residents because they are very noisy; the exhaust they produce is bad for the environment; and they blow particles into the air that can be potentially dangerous.
The handful of town residents who spoke in favor of the blower ban echoed Bergonzi's concerns about potential health risks and some recalled times when pleasant days were ruined by the noise of landscaping crews using leaf blowers.
Among those speaking out against the ban was Rob Carr, owner of Superior Landscaping, who said the ban would translate to longer hours for landscapers and higher prices for local homeowners.
"Mr. Bergonzi has stated that using the blower doesn't save time or money, he suggests the job can be done without it, and I can tell you from my lifetime of experience that is simply not true," Carr said, adding, "if this ban is passed, costs will go up and everyone will be affected."
Other town residents opposed to the ban argued that the decibel level produced by leaf blowers is no louder than other commonly-used power tools; that there was a lack of solid data proving that leaf blowers posed a real health risk; and that it would become another bylaw that local police would have to worry about enforcing.
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