9 invitations to date for gasoline leaf blowers in Montclair
By JAIMIE JULIA WINTERS
Consensus is still not established on whether Montclair’s recently changed restrictions on gasoline leaf blowers create a quieter Montclair.
The law is reducing the days and times gas fans can be used – including banning them in the second half of May and throughout June.
Peter Holm from Quiet Montclair, a group that aims to reduce the use of gasoline-powered leaf blowers in favor of quieter, healthier and greener alternatives, said the law has had some of the intended effects, but more compliance is needed. still needed.
The township, as of June 10, had issued nine summons to eight different landscaping companies for alleged violations of the gasoline leaf blower ban. These summons will give rise to hearing dates.
In addition, the township has issued five warnings to landscapers who have used gasoline leaf blowers since the ban took effect.
Officials have said in the past that warnings will be issued for the first offenses, while the second offenses will result in subpoenas and court dates.
Gasoline leaf blowers were previously permitted from March 1 to June 30 and October 1 to December 15. In February, the city council voted 5-2 to restrict these dates from March 15 to May 15 and from October 15 to December 15. Tee times are now also one hour later – 9 a.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. on weekends.
In total, this reduces the number of days allowed for leaf blowers each year from 168 to 93.
Holm asked if landscapers and homeowners had been made aware of the change in law.
Township officials have said in the past that all 48 landscapers who have registered with the city to do business will be notified by mail of the new times and when the bans will take effect. The New Jersey Landscapers Association was also aware of the change, Holm said.
Only two cities currently have limitations on gasoline leaf blowers – Montclair and Maplewood.
Maplewood passed its law in 2017, restricting gasoline leaf blowers by landscapers from October 1 to May 14. From Monday to Friday, they are authorized from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. $ 500 for a first offense, $ 1,000 for a second offense and $ 1,500 plus loss of license for a third offense. Prior to that, Maplewood had no restrictions on when gasoline fans could be used.
Montclair’s law creates a minimum fine of $ 100, a maximum of $ 2,000 and a jail term of 90 days for offenders – the maximum that applies to municipal ordinances.
Holm has said he would like to see escalating fines set like Maplewood’s, rather than leaving it to the discretion of the court. But he conceded that the purpose of the law was not to impose fines on landscapers, but to reduce the use of gasoline blowers.
And some landscapers have switched from gas to electric fans, which are allowed year round. But for some landscaping companies, the cost of replacing their fans is prohibitive, and the need to recharge batteries can hamper workflow. The cost of a professional battery-powered leaf blower is around $ 300 to $ 400 (the same as a gasoline blower), and comes with a battery, according to Dan Delventhal, owner of the maintenance company. MowGreen Lawns LLC, based in Connecticut, benefits from electric landscaping tools over gasoline-powered ones. He said that an electric fan has equivalent power to a gas fan. Delventhal made the comments at a Maplewood Township committee meeting on May 4.
Tunde Bamigboye, owner of Grasscutter told the Montclair local that it was an easy choice when he started his landscaping business in the Montclair area this year. It has gone all-battery or electric for all of its tools, trimmers, lawn mowers and blowers. Bamigboye said purchasing battery powered tools was a bit more expensive and he needed to have multiple batteries on hand for each tool. But it saves money by charging 0.25 cents an hour instead of refueling. It also charges when it goes to job sites, and some owners allow it to charge using their outdoor outlets.
“It’s all worth it when you think about the effect gas has on people’s lives,” he said. “Times are different now. There is a health crisis and there is climate change.
Delventhal said he was able to keep his rates at $ 40-45 an hour, which is the market rate.
Daria Paxton, owner of Gaia Gardens, invested in battery-powered spring blowers for use in the off-season, but sent letters to her 180 customers explaining how the reduction in hours would affect fall and spring cleanings, and informing them of a small price increase.
But customers aren’t afraid to pay a little more, said Bamigboye, who can’t hire enough workers to meet his demand.
Resident Jeannine Cox, who has been a strong supporter of a leaf blower ban, asked how many residents were aware of the change in use dates, or that Montclair even has a law regulating gasoline blowers.
Cox suggested that in the event of a violation, both the homeowner and the landscaper should receive a ticket. And enforcement should be conducted on a regular basis in the same way as maids, she said.
Although only two cities in New Jersey restrict the use of gasoline leaf blowers, 170 cities in the United States have passed regulations on the machines, Maplewood officials said at their May meeting. Next year Washington, DC will ban their use and sale altogether. And in April, Summit created a pilot program to test the ban on gasoline leaf blowers from June 1 to August 31 of this year.
Dr. Alvin H. Strelnick, professor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and resident of Montclair, told a Jan. 5 city council meeting that the two-stroke engines in gasoline leaf blowers “are invisibly toxic ; because they run on a mixture of gas and oil, they produce toxic exhaust gases, carbon monoxide, nitric oxide, hydrocarbons, and unburned fumes that linger for days. He said the pollution leads to asthma and could lead to cancer.
Shortly after Maplewood passed its ban, the New Jersey Landscape Contractors Association and nine landscaping companies filed a lawsuit against the city, accusing the ban of discriminating against companies because it does not apply to private residents. and the city’s DPW teams. Montclair’s ordinance, however, also applies to private residents, although the DPW is not limited. Maplewood’s lawsuit is still in federal courts.
The Montclair Gas Leaf Blower Ordinance was first created in 1995, restricting use from March 15 to April 30 and October 15 to December 1, and was quickly challenged by Dente Landscaping and 50 other “John Does”. In 1996, the group of landscapers successfully asked the township to submit the ordinance to a referendum, with 57.3% of voters against the repeal of the ordinance. The lawsuit was dismissed after landscapers and the township reached a settlement in 2000 limiting use from March 1 to June 10 and October 1 to December 15.
In February, Michael D. Byrne of Pilgrim Pruning said the bylaw prohibited the city from further restrictions on leaf blowers. But the bylaw, obtained by the Montclair local, does not specify that the city is prohibited from making changes to its ordinance.
At the time, the township lawyer, Ira Karasick, said: “Courts cannot normally prohibit legislative bodies from making laws – they can only deal with the laws themselves,” he said. added.