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Clarifications to Article about Leaf Blowers

We appreciate that the gas-powered leaf blower (GPLB) summer break, Article 31, warranted an in-depth article in your new online news publication that will be a great addition to the community, but we wanted to clarify a few things stated in your article.

 

One of the reasons that various supporting arguments on GPLBs were presented at Town Meeting in the past nine years or so (not five) is that more research has been done on the hazards of GPLBs with more scientific data available each year. There are many reasons that it did not pass in previous years, including that the article was often put at the end of the meetings when many residents had already left. In October 2020 and May 2021, which were held outdoors because of the pandemic, there were lower levels of attendance. In both years, the weather was cold, windy and wet, and with the Article voted on at the end of the night, many residents had already gone home after enduring over three hours in those raw conditions.  Those avidly opposed to the article stayed or arrived just in time to vote. This year there was a higher turnout at Town Meeting and, importantly, parents with children stayed because articles relating to the schools were after the leaf blower article. Residents have also become increasingly educated about the health and ecological hazards of GPLBs. 

 

The Article that passed this year, a summer break from GPLB, is more lenient than in prior years in order to address landscapers’ concerns. In summer, there are minimal leaves to blow around so what gets blown around is dust and pollen. Our windows are open, children are out of school, and the noise and pollution enter our homes and our bodies.  This is especially disturbing in the areas of town where the houses are cheek by jowl. Some landscapers have countered that battery-powered leaf blowers also result in particulate pollution and have environmental issues because of battery recycling. While that is true, battery-powered blowers are not as loud or as detrimental to our health and quality of life as gas-powered ones. Electric blowers have zero exhaust fumes.

 

Unfortunately, language regarding penalties and enforcement, which had been included in previous years, was inadvertently omitted when the Article was amended at this year’s Town Meeting. In 2023, the sponsors of  Article 31 will be proposing an amendment that will include enforcement and penalties. The current Article will become law once the Articles passed at Town Meeting are approved by the Attorney General’s office. Although that will likely not be before Labor Day this year, it could be sooner. The article passed decisively. Voluntary compliance by landscapers and residents this summer (Memorial Day to Labor Day) is a great opportunity to move forward on this issue and to implement the will of Marblehead voters.

 

Jeanie Stahl

Hooper Street, Marblehead

and other sponsors of Article 31: Kathryn Breslin, Beth Grader, Rita March, Myra Sussman

 

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