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Spring Brings New Life to Leaf Blower Battle

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For the city of Montclair, New Jersey, the issue of leaf blower use in residential areas is in high contention. Back in 1994, the city was one of the first to pass an ordinance to regulate the use of internal combustion leaf blowers. The regulation exists because many residents believe the noise created by the blowers to be a public nuisance.

One anti-leaf blower resident, describes the springtime noise as “absolutely irritating… Other excessive noise is regulated, particularly in the construction industry, so why does landscaping get a pass?" Some arguments go past personal aggravation. A local college professor said, "The prevalence of leaf blowers and their casual and prolific use indicates a numbness and indifference to other people and to the environment ... it represents everything that is dystopia and barbaric about New Jersey.”

Just as vehemently, the pro-blower camp argues the practical side of the situation. Leaf blowers, they say, are the only way to efficiently clear all of the springtime plant debris. Steve Wood, the director of the municipal Community Services Department, calls regulating leaf blowers “ridiculous and unnecessary.” A ban, he says, is “very disruptive for our operations and the cleanliness of the township facilities would suffer.”

The executive director of the New Jersey Landscape Contractors Association, Jody Shilan, said that a job that takes one hour with a leaf blower would take four or more hours to do by hand. In addition, Shilan added that the town’s anti-leaf blower law is unfair because it targets a specific type of equipment and industry.

“There must be a compromise,” said one resident. “I’m open to restrictions on usage of leaf blowers to certain times of the day, but any partial or full ban is a very slippery slope with troubling legal and constitutional implications.”

Reportedly, a lot of organizations are looking to see how things are shaking out with Montclair, but with both sides having been entrenched for years, it appears that there is no end in sight for this active small town debate.

 
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