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North Hempstead revises proposed ban on leaf blowers, some equipment

A committee working on the proposal included landscapers who felt switching to battery powered-devices would be costly.

North Hempstead Town Hall on Oct. 14, 2018.

North Hempstead Town Hall on Oct. 14, 2018. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

North Hempstead officials plan to present a revised version of their ban on gas-powered landscaping equipment during a public meeting next week. 

Residents complained last summer about the noise and pollution gas-powered equipment create in neighborhoods, prompting the town council to propose a ban. The proposed ban, which applied to commercial landscapers only, would have prohibited the use of leaf blowers and other motorized landscaping tools — even the electric variety — 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. Gas-powered blowers and equipment would have been completely banned between June 1 and Sept. 30.

Town council members were set to vote on the ban in October, but heard pushback from landscapers. Supervisor Judi Bosworth then created a committee charged with revising the proposal. The committee — made up of landscapers, residents, and environmentalists — held its final meeting earlier this month and has sent recommendations to the town, Bosworth said. 

"This has been a long time coming," she said. "I look forward to reviewing this proposed legislation in its final form."

Bonnie Sager, co-founder of the clean landscaping advocacy group Huntington CALM, served on the committee. She said residents and environmentalists spent time explaining the benefits of battery-powered lawncare equipment to landscapers. Residents were pushing for restrictions because they object to the noise and fumes created by the gas-powered equipment while landscapers felt switching to battery powered-devices would be costly.

"The landscapers were concerned about their livelihood," Sager said. "But what we tried to press is that, if they did a cost analysis, you could break even as soon as nine months."

 H. Pat Voges, governmental affairs chairman of the Nassau Suffolk Landscape Grounds Association, said the group and its 1,600 members are not opposed to the committee recommendations that will be proposed.

“We’ve been working with them at the town for almost a year now and we’re OK with it,” Voges said. 

The town will share the committee's recommendations at 7 p.m. Jan. 29 at town hall in Manhasset. Town council members could vote on the recommendations that day.

Bosworth said the ideal legislation will be a compromise between landscapers and residents seeking cleaner air and quieter mornings.

"This was a difficult thing to move forward," Bosworth said. "but we wanted to do what's right for our residents as well as those who are in the landscaping business and our environmentalists." 

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