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Letter: Town Ordinance on Leaf Blowers

Autumn is back, and that means the leaf blowers are back in full force, not that they ever go away during the spring and summer. The Town of North Hempstead has an ordinance regulating the hours when using leaf blowers and other power machinery (power washers, etc.) is permitted (see below in this letter). But this ordinance does more to protect landscapers than it does to protect the homeowner. Nearly everyone hires a lawn service now. On any day of the week the drone of the blower and mower is present. Some communities have adopted tighter restrictions on the use of leaf blowers, which are used constantly even when there are no fallen leaves to remove. They replace a rake or a broom (both silent).

Several times this summer, we have been blasted out of bed during the weekend by the roar of power tools starting way too early. A power washer blasted us awake at 7 a.m. on a recent Saturday morning right next door. Yesterday, a Sunday at 7:30 a.m., I had to walk more than a block away to find the power tool that awoke us from such a distance. That homeowner almost physically assaulted me when I told him it was illegal to use the machine before 10 a.m. I have taken quite a few walks down the street in the quest for some peace and quiet. I even called the police once when the landscaper refused to quiet the machinery before permitted hours. I think use of the leaf blower has gotten out of control.

I repeat myself: The TONH ordinance does more to protect the landscapers than to protect the homeowner. Landscapers seem not to distinguish between weekdays and weekends, and apparently neither do most homeowners. Asking landscapers to work Monday-Friday only would be a simple courtesy to neighbors. Just because the code permits weekends does not make it right.

Some communities require leaf blowers to be tested and certified to be below a certain decibel level. Some communities forbid Sunday leaf blowers, others only permit them in autumn when there are actually leaves to blow. It is hard to change the law. Might it be easier for neighbors to talk to each other and agree to work on quality of life topics like this?

For the record, there are the TONH codes copied directly for the Town website.

Town of North Hempstead Codes - Chapter 38-3 Prohibited Acts

16) Domestic power tools: operating or permitting the operation of any mechanically powered saw, sander, drill, grinder, lawn or garden tool, snowblower or similar device used in residential areas between the hours of 7 p.m. the previous day to 8 a.m., Monday through Friday, and 5 p.m. the previous day to 10 a.m. on a Saturday, Sunday or holiday, so as to cause a noise disruption across a residential real property boundary.

18) Leaf blowers: the operation of any motorized leaf blower, lawn mower, hedge, lawn or tree trimmer, mulcher or similar device on a weekday prior to 8 a.m. or after 7 p.m. or on a Saturday, Sunday or legal holiday prior to 10 a.m. or after 5 p.m.

Sara Lucks