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Hamptons Life

Jul 11, 2015 1:26 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Bridgehampton CAC Says 'No' To Leaf Blowers In The Summer

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Jul 12, 2015 1:15 PM

The summer season is in full bloom, and landscapers are meticulously tending to properties across the East End. Much to the chagrin of some neighbors, most are using leaf blowers.

Leading a local campaign to raise awareness of the harms associated with using these gas-powered machines, Stephen Jones, a part-time Bridgehampton resident, made a special presentation to the Bridgehampton Citizens Advisory Committee late last month.

"If you agree, then you've got to make your voice heard, and you've got to make your voice heard now," said Mr. Jones. "We've got to build a fire under the Town Council."

Last year, the CAC approved a resolution asking the Southampton Town Board to limit the use of gas-powered leaf blowers. They agreed that the machines are unnecessary between May 1 and September 30, since the abundance of leaves on the ground is greater in the autumn and winter months. In response, the East Quogue CAC voted to support their position last November. "The idea is still alive, and we still support it," said East Quogue CAC Chair Joan Hughes on June 30.

At the Bridgehampton meeting, Mr. Jones introduced Jamie Banks, executive director of Quiet Communities, a nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing “excessive use” of industrial outdoor maintenance equipment. Ms. Banks listed some of the negative impacts gas-powerd equipment can have on people and the environment, including the release of heavy pollutants, chronic, protracted noise and fuel spills.

Southampton Town Councilman Brad Bender, who has been examining the issue, was also present at the meeting. Last year, Mr. Bender tried to introduce legislation to ban the use of leaf blowers on Sundays and generally limit hours of operation, but he received significant pushback from the business community. In addition, his colleagues on the Town Board would not sign on out of concern that it would interfere with commerce.

"What can we do, Brad? Tell us," said Bridgehampton CAC co-chair Nancy Walter-Yvertes.

Mr. Bender urged the committee's members to mobilize and tell their friends and neighbors. "I can't pass a piece of legislation without your help," he said, adding that it is important to get landscapers involved in the dialogue about how to make "healthy choices for the community."

CAC members agreed to spread the word and ultimately approved a resolution asking their landscapers to use only weedwackers and lawn mowers during the summer.

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