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North Hempstead moving toward full ban on gas-powered landscaping equipment 

Town officials proposed outlawing mowers, trimmers and other equipment last year, but Supervisor Judi Bosworth said the effort includes making sure the law does not harm landscaping businesses. 

A leaf blower in use in a yard

A leaf blower in use in a yard in Holbrook in 2013. Photo Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas

North Hempstead officials are working toward a ban on all gas-powered landscaping equipment within the next decade, Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth said last week in an interview with Newsday and News12 Long Island.

Bosworth said Thursday that companies making electric landscaping equipment are improving the devices every year in terms of battery life, horsepower and ease of use. In five to 10 years, electric equipment will be just as effective as gas-powered equipment, allowing the town to outlaw gas-powered mowers, trimmers and blowers, she said.

“With the amount of attention that’s been paid to it and the research that’s going on, the hope is that the [electric] equipment will get to the point where it really can be interchangeable,” Bosworth said. “But there’s still room for them to grow in terms of being as effective as they need to be.”

Until then, North Hempstead continues its work on a law to prohibit from June 1 to Sept. 30 the use of gas-powered leaf blowers and weed trimmers before 8 a.m. or after 7 p.m. on weekdays, and before 10 a.m. and after 5 p.m. on weekends and holidays, according to a draft of the law.

Town officials proposed the ban last fall after residents complained that the devices are too loud and cause air pollution. Bosworth said officials are trying to create a law that doesn’t hurt landscaping businesses and still minimizes the hazards.

“They emit really toxic fumes,” Bosworth said. “When homeowners are around, not only is the landscaper breathing in the fumes, but it’s contaminating the air around us.”

Other communities have passed bans on the equipment during the summer, including Great Neck Estates, Yonkers and Rye.

There is no timetable on when North Hempstead will vote on the ban, said town spokeswoman Carole Trottere. A committee of landscapers, residents and environmentalists is providing input for a revised version of the ban.

Landscapers on the committee have raised concerns about whether electric equipment is powerful enough to complete landscaping work, Trottere said, and about the devices’ battery life.

“They’re asking ‘Where are we going to charge the batteries in between jobs?’ ” Trottere said. “But the technology is advancing so quickly; there are batteries that last twice as long as the old ones.”

Last summer, the town purchased electric landscaping equipment that employees have used at Clark Botanic Gardens in Albertson and at Martin Bunky Reid Park in New Cassel. Bosworth said that the rollout has been mostly positive and that she hopes private landscapers will follow suit.

“For our workers, it is a much better piece of equipment,” Bosworth said. “It’s much lighter, so it’s not doing the damage to their back, and they’re not using it and having to breathe in gasoline fumes.”

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