Town of Huntington officials voted to tighten the use of gas-powered leaf blowers but stopped short of banning the devices.
Officials are also asking residents to avoid using leaf blowers during the pandemic over health and safety concerns.
Under the new legislation, the latest hour that gas-powered leaf blowers are now allowed to be used has been reduced from 7 p.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays. Commercial use of gas-powered leaf blowers on residential property on Sundays and holidays has been eliminated, and the definition of a noise disturbance has been clarified.
The board also voted to establish a commercial landscaper registry for Suffolk County-licensed landscapers who want to operate within the town and to promote the use of energy-efficient equipment.
The measures were approved 4-1 at the March 31 town board meeting. Town board member Gene Cook voted against the resolutions.
Town board member Joan Cergol, co-sponsor of the resolutions along with Town Supervisor Chad Lupinacci and town board member Ed Smyth, said the town’s policy is well-informed and thoughtful thanks to working with community leaders to strike a reasonable balance between the needs and concerns of residents and the landscaping industry.
Cergol said the amendments are the "fruits of a lengthy and ongoing collaboration" with Huntington CALM (Clean Alternative Landscaping Methods) and the Nassau Suffolk Landscape Gardeners Association.
A procedure for licensed landscapers to register with the town clerk’s office is being established.
Yearly registration will be $50, which includes a vehicle decal. The annual fee will be waived if the landscaper can demonstrate ownership of at least five pieces of energy-efficient equipment, officials said.
Lupinacci is urging residents and landscapers to refrain from using gas-powered and electric-powered leaf blowers during the remainder of the coronavirus pandemic over public health worries. He is asking landscapers to adhere to social distancing protocols.
He also suggests residents consider delaying starting up lawn irrigation systems to reduce the number of service calls and contact required to maintain these systems.
“What we do know is that this is a respiratory illness and many residents are concerned because we really don't know the threat that leaf blowers bring, if any," Lupinacci said. "We will reassess as conditions improve and/or social distancing protocols are lifted or softened by the state.”