The use of gas-powered leaf blowers has been a topic of discussion in many cities in North Jersey and even in the New Jersey State Legislature, where a 2021 proposal to ban the sale and use of the devices in the state. Montclair is the latest community to take up the topic, as a proposal to completely ban the devices was introduced by the Montclair Town Council back in July. Currently, gas-powered leaf blowers are banned in Montclair from May 16th through October 14th, but a new proposal has been approved and will now prohibit them outright starting on October 15th, 2023. Read on for more about the ban.
About the Issue
While the sound of a leaf blower is synonymous with lawn maintenance, many people find the sound a nuisance. There are also concerns about the emissions produced by the gas-powered engines. The combination of noise and environmental pollution has led many communities to limit the use of the devices or ban them outright in favor of less disruptive electric or other eco-options.
A 2020 New York Times article cited the rise of people working from home during the pandemic as an amplifying force on the topic. Since now more people are home and attuned to the noises of the neighborhood, more people are noticing the leaf blower issue. Westfield, NJ Mayor Shelley Brindle had informally asked neighbors to wait till midday to use the devices.
The state of California has banned the sale and use of gas-powered leaf blowers citing emissions concerns. Washington DC has banned the use of the devices. In 2021, the New Jersey Senate discussed a bill that would wholly prohibit the sale and use of gas-powered leaf blowers in the state.
Now in 2023, some communities are still working to make changes to gas-powered leaf blower usage policies. Most notably Maplewood enacted a total ban.
About the Proposal
A 2021 policy change in Montclair restricted the use of gas-powered leaf blowers. This change created seasonal time frames for leaf blower use and set acceptable hours for the use of the devices. Princeton, New Jersey has similar restrictions. Summit, NJ also experimented in 2021 with a similar policy.
In 2023, a new proposal was introduced in Montclair to completely ban the use of gas-powered leaf blowers in favor of electric devices or other methods to remove lawn debris. The ban impacts public and private property owners, meaning that the Town itself must comply: the school district and Department of public works will have to change their equipment and/or methods.
The Montclair Town Council discussed the proposal at its meeting on July 18th. The proposal passed with a vote of 5-2.
Critics say that the ban goes too far and will drive up landscaping costs because it will take more time to complete work. Supporters say that it’s past time for these devices to be banned.
The Town Council voted again on the proposal at its meeting on August 15th. The proposal passed with a vote of 4-1, and will take effect on October 15th, 2023. Residents and property managers will face fines from the city for non-compliance: $250 for the first offense, $500 for the second offense, and $1000 for a third or subsequent offense.
Citizen-led group Quiet Montclair has resources and FAQS for residents, businesses, and property owners to prepare for the transition.