Green Initiatives – Leaf Blowers in Bedford

The Leaf Blower Committee is reviewing the current leaf blower ordinance and considering amendments for recommendation to the Town Board. A community forum was held on Monday, April 19, 2021.Here is the recording. https://youtu.be/NVSM7O3KLpI

As the Leaf Blower Committee formulates recommendations to the town board, its members are interested in hearing community views on the leaf blower issue and how the current ordinance is working. Before emailing the Committee, please review the facts about leaf blowers to see why their use is a concern in Bedford. These are outlined in these two documents. https://drive.google.com/…/1RDP5X7RBioEM4jZ0P9aS9H…/view and https://drive.google.com/…/1JLWQa…/view…

LINKS

Leaf Blower Use Law – adopted June 19, 2018 and amended 8.14.18

Hamlet Zones List

To print out the regulations regarding the leaf blower law, or to read some tips on talking points, go here:
https://bedfordny.gov/leaf-blower-task-force-the-law-regulations-to-print-and-talking-tips-for-neighbors/

Westchester County law requires that landscaping contractors be registered with the County and that leaf blowers meet County emissions regulations.

For further information please see
https://consumer.westchestergov.com/consumer-laws/leaf-blowers.

 

The Town of Bedford discourages the use of leaf blowers, particularly gas leaf blowers.

Currently, gas leaf blowers are prohibited in the Hamlet Zones from May 15 – September 15, leaf blowers may only be used at certain times and no leaf blower use is permitted on Sundays. (See the law here.)

Please speak to your lawn care company, if you use one, to ensure compliance.

Why Bedford is Concerned About Leaf Blowers

Air Quality

Two-stroke engines produce coarse particulate matter, or PM10, which is a mixture of solid and liquid particles suspended in air. This pollution is made up of a number of components, including acids, metals, chemicals, soil particles, and allergens (pollen or mold spores). Small particles 10 microns and less in diameter (PM10) pose the greatest problems, because they can get deep into the lungs; the smallest particles may even get into the bloodstream, affecting a person’s heart. Larger particles can irritate the eyes, nose and throat and trigger asthma attacks. This impacts all of us, our children, our pets, and, most directly, the operators of the machinery. (See more detail here.)

We propose an eventual phase-in of electric equipment to replace these machines.

Soil Quality

Leaf blowers worsen soil quality. Ask your landscaper to restrict their use to driveways and paths, and to use a mulching mower on your lawn that grinds leaves back into the soil. (See more info here.)

 Noise Pollution

Anything in excess of 85 decibels (leaf blowers regularly hit 115, not to mention the large mowers some landscapers use) is damaging to the ears. 

Stereocilia in the inner ear, which are responsible for our hearing and balance, do not regenerate once damaged, meaning hearing impacts from lawn equipment noise is permanent. 

Noise pollution also adds to stress, which is one reason why communities everywhere have noise ordinances.

People working from home, students studying at home, the elderly, those working night shifts and people who just like to enjoy the outdoors are all disturbed by leaf blower noise.

Click here for research on leaf blower noise. Please be sensitive to your neighbors’ peace of mind and minimize leaf blower use.

Climate Change

We can see that the climate is changing and is it acknowledged scientific fact that fossil fuels are contributing to the change. Please take a look at the science regarding air quality degradation and climate change. Why use a polluting 2-stroke engine when it’s not necessary? Is having vacuumed grass and driveways is more important than island nations or coral reefs (among other choices)? There are less polluting alternatives to gas leaf blowers and we encourage users to adopt these alternatives.

In the event that talking – and a bit of patience – do not result in adherence to the law, then during regular Town business hours (8:30 AM to 4:30 PM) please call the Code Enforcement Officer Angel Oya (914) 830-3574, or the Building Inspector Al Ciraco at 666-3730 or e-mail him at aciraco@bedfordny.gov. with the specifics: address, date and time of violation, and if a landscaper, the name and phone number of the landscaper (photo of the truck if available). Even if the landscapers have left, this gives enforcement an opportunity to reach out to both the homeowner and the landscaper and remind them of the restrictions.

During off hours, please call the Police Desk at 241-3111

Alternatively. Please download the Relay app for Smartphones and create an account. You can use this app to report leaf blower violations and the report goes straight to the police department. (You click on the + sign to report a violation. Photos can also be attached.) More info about Relay can be found at www.relayapp.com

What You Can Do

The best way to manage leaves is to use a mulching mower to add their nutrients back to the soil. You can ask your landscape contractor to do this. See Leave Leaves Alone (in English and Spanish) or Westchester’s LELE campaign for more info; it has been scientifically proven to be good for your lawn! Landscape contractors are eager to keep your business and many have discovered that leaf mulching is good for their business. In specific instances where you really want to use a leaf blower, to quickly blow off a hard-to-sweep area for example, or on hardscapes, an electric leaf blower is a much better choice than a gas powered blower.

Please let your landscaper know that you are aware of the leaf blower restrictions and that it’s ok with you if your lawn is not stripped clean of every living thing when they leave your property.  Here is a letter you may give to your landscaper, explaining why leaf blowers should be used minimally for best horticultural practice in your yard. 

Here are some Sample Letters to landscapers for your use.

Many Westchester municipalities and others in the U.S have enacted similar or stronger leaf blower legislation. Larchmont, for example, has banned all gas leaf blowers effective January 2022.

The current leaf blower legislation is under review. Please contact the Leaf Blower Committee if you’d like to be part of these deliberations.

Please email the Bedford Conservation Board or the Bedford Leaf Blower Committee if you have any questions.

To learn more about the Leaf Blower Ordinance, go here

Current Members:
Helene Kopal, Co-Chair
Fiona Mitchell, Co-Chair
Teresa Donkin
Murray Fisher
Jiri Hoogland
Midge Iorio
Clare Sherwood
Betsy Weir
Ken Hubener

Stephanie McCaine ex-offico, TB Liaison

Leaf Blowers – The Local Law
At its June 19, 2018 meeting, the Town Board adopted a local law on the use of leaf blowers. The Board worked for months with the Leaf Blower Committee and staff and relied heavily on feedback from members of the community, especially those who considered too stringent some ideas being reviewed. The Board adopted hours and days of use which are uniform throughout the Town.   The Board rejected certain more stringent provisions, such as complete bans, licensing of landscapers, requirement to obtain a permit, shorter leaf season.

There are two special rules for Hamlet Zones  (which are primarily smaller lots and based on zoning districts), otherwise Hamlet Zones are treated the same as the rest of the Town.
1. No gas powered blowers during off-season
2. Year round: one leaf blower at a time, and no push behind blowers

Town Officials understand that it might take time for residents to learn about this new law and to make the necessary changes to comply with it. For that reason, we encourage you to help us spread the word by first talking to your neighbors if you see that they are not following the rules.

In the event that talking – and a bit of patience – do not result in adherence to the law, then during regular Town business hours (8:30 AM to 4:30 PM) please call Building Inspector Al Ciraco at 666-3730 or e-mail him at aciraco@bedfordny.gov. with the specifics: address, date and time of violation, and if a landscaper, the name and phone number of the landscaper (photo of the truck if available).

During off hours, please call the Police Desk at 241-3111. 

The following is a quick summary table:

EFFECTIVE AUGUST 15, 2018:
Hours Permitted for Leaf Season (September 16 through May 14) Hours Permitted Off Season  (May 15 through September 15)
Weekdays 8:00 AM through 6:00 PM Weekdays, 9:00 AM through 5:00 PM
Saturdays and Holidays: 10:00 AM through 4:00 PM (no Sundays) Saturdays and Holidays: 10:00 AM through 4:00 PM (no Sundays)
SPECIAL RULES FOR HAMLET ZONES
Year round: one leaf blower at a time and no push-behind blowers
Off -season (effective 2019):  no gas powered blowers during off season

 

BACKGROUND

More than eight years ago, several Bedford residents launched Leave Leaves Alone, an initiative to encourage residents to adopt safer, cleaner gardening practices, including replacing the practice of blowing leaves from a lawn with mulching. While many residents switched to mulching, the use of leaf blowers throughout the years appears to have increased. In March of 2017,  Leave Leaves Alone co-founder Fiona Mitchell and other residents approached the Town Board asking that the Board consider adopting a local law addressing leaf blower use due to their noise, emissions and other adverse environmental impacts (click here).  Many Westchester County municipalities have already adopted ordinances regulating leaf blowers, ranging from seasonal bans  to restrictions on the times of day during which leaf blowers may be used, and other towns are following suit. Westchester Leaf Blower Laws 

The Town Board, on December 19, 2017, appointed a Leaf Blowers Task Force (LBTF) comprised of all members of the Town Board, (ex-officio), Ms. Mitchell and Teresa Donkin as co-chairs, and other residents. The Task Force’s charge was to help inform and frame a proposed ordinance for the Town of Bedford. Considering the scientific evidence concerning air quality, human health and the environment, comments from the public, feedback from enforcement and town officials and the advice and input from landscapers, the Task Force worked with the Board in the spring of 2018,  to refine and formulate a proposal to restrict the use of leaf blowers. The Town Board passed the Leaf Blower Use Law on June 17. It will become effective in phases beginning August 15, 2018.

The Leaf Blower Task Force was reappointed by the Town Board in July 2018 and has been re-charged to support the Town in achieving a smooth implementation for residents and landscapers alike by communicating and informing the public about the purpose and benefits of the new law. The reconstituted Task Force is co-chaired by Fiona Mitchell and Helene Kopal, and staffed by Clare Sherwood, Midge Iorio, Betsy Weir, and Ken Hubener, a professional landscaper and Bedford resident. Town Board member Kate Galligan serves as the Board’s liaison to the Task Force.

The Task Force is actively seeking new members and is encouraging any resident or Bedford business person to join in the effort to facilitate the implementation of the leaf blower ordinance. We are also keenly interested in hearing your comments and ask that you provide them by email, here.

Westchester County law requires that landscaping contractors be registered with the County and that leaf blowers meet County emissions regulations.  For further information please see https://consumer.westchestergov.com/consumer-laws/leaf-blowers.

For more information:  Click here for the FAQs.

LINKS

Leaf Blower Use Law – adopted June 19, 2018 and amended 8.14.18

Hamlet Zones List

Leaf Blower FAQs 6-26-18

To print out the regulations regarding the leaf blower law, or to read some tips on talking points, go here:
https://bedfordny.gov/leaf-blower-task-force-the-law-regulations-to-print-and-talking-tips-for-neighbors/

Westchester County law requires that landscaping contractors be registered with the County and that leaf blowers meet County emissions regulations.

For further information please see
https://consumer.westchestergov.com/consumer-laws/leaf-blowers.

For more information:
Click here for the FAQs

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