Proposed Blower Ban Sparks Local Debate
With Town Meeting just a month away, we want to know, how do you stand on a proposal to ban the use of leaf blowers in Marblehead?
Among the more controversial items on this year's Town Meeting Warrant is a proposed ban on the use of leaf blowers in Marblehead.
The proposal, sponsored by local resident Christopher Bergonzi, has sparked a debate between environmentalists who argue that leaf blowers pose a health risk and area landscapers who fear for their livelihood.
Although the dispute over the leaf blower ban is expected to last right up to May 7, it was the focus of a meeting held at Abbot Public Library last week that became "heated at times," according to Health Director Andrew Petty.
At their meeting Wednesday night, health board members acknowledged that they will be asked to take a stance on the proposed ban but opted to return to the issue at their next meeting.
"We have to stop and consider what we've been charged with doing," board member Michelle Gottlieb said. "Are we going to base our decision just on the health concerns they've raised, or should we be considering the economic effects of the ban too?"
While discussing the proposed ban with Marblehead state Rep. Lori Ehrlich, board members continually referenced the March 27 meeting that drew a small crowd of local residents to Abbot Public Library.
"There were some landscapers there who stormed out in the middle of the meeting," Gottlieb said, adding that it got "tense" when those leading the discussion began comparing the decibel level of leaf blowers to other pieces of power equipment.
Ban proponents 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.
While opponents argue that the decibel level produced by leaf blowers is no louder than other commonly-used power tools; that the ban would make simple tasks more time consuming for landscaping crews; and local residents would have to pay more to have their properties maintained as a result.
On hand for the informational meeting was Rob Carr, owner of Superior Landscaping, who said the proposed ban has him worried about the future of his business.
"My question is what's next? The motorcycle driving down the street? The contractor's tool? Where does it end?," Carr said. "There's more of a whine to a leaf blower than other tools, but the fact of the matter is that they're no louder than a lawn mower in terms of decibels."
Though he admitted that leaf blowers aren't environmentally friendly and are sometimes used irresponsibly, Carr said the proposed ban has sparked a dialogue among local landscapers about best practices.
"We're talking to each other about this now," Carr said. "Normally we just talk about the industry but now we've begun talking about reducing blower use and being more conscious."
If the ban is enacted, Marblehead would join Arlington, Brookline, Cambridge and more than 400 other communities across the country that have leaf blower bans.
So, we want to know, if Town Meeting was today - how would you vote on the proposed ban on leaf blowers? Let us know by voting in the poll below.