GREENWICH — Citing complaints of “incessant loud noise and toxic fumes,”A new citizen group is calling for the town to limit the amount of crime. “excessive”Gas-powered leaf blowers can be used in towns.
Elizabeth Dempsey Jane Brash formed Quiet Yards Greenwich for the first time. Their report on leaf-blower use was presented to the Board of Selectmen last week with the intent of sparking a discussion.
“With the popularity of working from home, Greenwich residents have complained on local blogs to the police and to town officials about the excessive use of leaf blowers surrounding their homes year round,”Dempsey spoke to the board.
Dempsey explained how the group surveyed almost 600 people. This included residents and employees of landscape companies that use electric- or gas powered blowers.
“The results were clear,”She spoke. “Everyone said there is a problem and actions should be taken.”
Quiet Yards Greenwich is looking for “common sense, balanced solutions that improve residential quality of life,”Dempsey confirmed. She said that the group is open to working with landscape businesses to make small changes, without putting too much burden on their businesses.
“Many residents have moved from urban areas and chose Greenwich for open space and tranquility,”Dempsey stated. “Our survey shows residents want relief from the incessant loud noise and toxic fumes that seem non-stop from spring to fall and sometimes into winter.”
They stated that over 200 municipalities have adopted rules regarding the use of gas-powered leaf blowers.
Thursday’s proposals were not made by the group. Quiet Yards Greenwich’s founders stated that they want to present their data and support evidence in a whitepaper to the Board of Selectmen.
“In order to choose the right direction for Greenwich, decision-makers should have access to the latest research and data on public opinion and understand the needs of our landscape companies,”Dempsey stated. “They should have detailed information about all available options.”
Dempsey stated they believe there are solutions to balance landscape choices, protect landscape businesses, and promote quality of life.
This was a good start, according to the selectmen.
“I love the work you put into this,” First Selectman Fred Camillo said. “I definitely want to see this moving forward, personally. I know sometimes crawling before you walk is a way to avoid the shock of moving too quickly.”
Lauren Rabin (Selectwoman) stated that she was eager for more details from the report.
“Noise is as much a form of pollution as anything else,” Selectwoman Janet Stone McGuigan said.
Quiet Yards organizers claimed leaf blowers at the source produce the loudest noise levels. They can be heard 50 feet away. The noise levels of the most popular leaf blowers are between 65 and 75 decibels.
“The noise frequency from this equipment carries long distances, penetrating walls and windows. Chronic loud noise damages hearing, contributes to hypertension, lost productivity and can impair children’s learning,”Brash stated, outlining the health problems.
The force of the toolShe stated that it can also pose dangers.
“At speeds of 150 to 280 mph, the powerful air jet of a single gas-powered leaf blower can disperse up to 5 pounds of particulates from the ground into the air every hour,”She spoke.
“Studies have shown that these particulates, which are small enough to be inhaled, may linger suspended in the air for a week or longer. Many of these particulates are carcinogenic and commonly include pesticides, herbicides, fertilizer, animal feces, pollen and mold,”Brash stated.
Citizens Against Leaf blower Madness (or CALM), pushed Representative Town Meeting to approve a proposal ordinance that would have banned gas powered leaf blowers from private properties and imposed fines on those who violated it.
In June 2012, the RTM voted 76-93 in favor of the measure.
Camillo stated that he had put a restriction on leaf blower use at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, as many people work from their homes. But that restriction, along with Camillo’s emergency powers, expired last year, he said.
Camillo suggested that Quiet Yards focus on short-term goals and create a detailed strategy. “Doing nothing is not an option,”He said.
“Eventually there is going to be some pushback,”Camillo spoke about possible rules regarding leaf blowers. “Not only from professional landscapers but from some of their customers who feel they’re going to be stuck with higher bills. … Enacting some more short-term options and putting in place a timeline to achieve the longer-term ones (makes sense). It will give people time.
“When we went to recycling in 1989, lots of people were complaining and didn’t want to do it but we guided them and went slowly and it became second nature to people,”He said.
Dempsey stated that Quiet Yards Greenwich was “a broad representation of Greenwich itself”This includes parents, business owners, landscapers and real estate agents, as well as members and members of the RTM and other town body bodies like the Conservation Commission and Sustainability Committee.
The issue affects everyone — even those who don’t use gas-powered leaf blowers, they said. The “noise and the impact of gas blowers travels across our property lines through our walls”Dempsey stated that this prevents residents enjoying their yards and homes.
She also stated that other nearby towns are taking similar actions, including restrictions on Westchester municipalities use and outright bans. Stamford also has a citizen initiativeTo limit the use of gas-powered leaf blowers.