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Jan 15, 2019 5:30 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Village To Hold Public Hearings For Stricter Regulations To Landscapers

Southampton Village is proposing a summer ban on gas-powered leaf blowers, instead encouraging landscapers to transition to electric leaf blowers. PRESS FILE
Jan 16, 2019 9:50 AM

The Southampton Village Board will propose stricter regulations on construction, property maintenance and landscaping within the village in a continuing push to create a quieter community.

The board will hold two public hearings at its meeting on January 22 at Southampton Village Hall, and Mayor Michael Irving said he is anticipating a large turnout.

The village may require annual registration for landscapers and also place restrictions on the time of day that construction and property maintenance work can be done. A summer ban is proposed for the use of gas-powered leaf blowers—a long-debated issue throughout the East End, between residents who prefer a quiet neighborhood and landscapers whose jobs rely on the loud maintenance tools.

“There were comments that were constantly made about noise and about disruption from construction and from landscaping, so we took a positive approach and we had actual meetings with a number of landscapers, and both of those resolutions came out of those meetings,” the mayor said of the planned public hearings. “A lot of it was input from landscapers themselves.”

The first public hearing that evening will focus on a plan to add a new chapter to the village code to require annual registration of all landscapers who operate within the village, as a way to monitor who is properly licensed.

“One of the problems we have constantly is pesticides and fertilizers,” Mr. Irving said. “It’s hard to keep track if individuals are licensed to do so or just coming in and applying it. It could be a health issue.”

If approved, all landscapers must submit to the village a completed registration form with a payment of either $100 for an individual or $250 for a business, as well as a valid and current Suffolk County Home Improvement License and any certificates for using pesticides or fertilizers.

The removal of unlicensed landscapers could bring more customers to those who are licensed and thus boost their business, noted Stephen Jones, a Bridgehampton resident who has advocated for quieter communities since 2014.

The village required annual registrations of landscapers years ago, and Mr. Irving said this is an attempt to bring it back.

The second public hearing involves amending a local law to identify unnecessary noise caused by construction, property maintenance and landscaping, along with imposing time restrictions for when the work can take place.

The board wants to limit all related work to be done within the hours of 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Saturdays. All work would be prohibited on Sundays and on federal and state holidays. The goal of implementing those time restrictions is that “residents may enjoy the quiet use of their property,” as stated in the proposal.

In the same proposal, the board is trying to ban the use of gas-powered leaf blowers from May 15 to September 30, when landscapers typically use them to blow lawn clippings from residential yards. During October 1 to May 14, usage would follow the same schedule as other maintenance work.

The only exceptions to this rule would be for golf, beach and tennis clubs, and municipal employees, as well as when responding to an emergency or cleaning up after a major storm.

“I think it’s ridiculous. Totally ridiculous,” said Joe Kirby, owner of South Fork Landscaping in Tuckahoe, on the proposed summer ban on gas-powered leaf blowers. “One of the things they could do is not have [gas-powered] leaf blowers being used on the weekend. But during the week, it’s night and day. It’s going to cost the homeowner a lot more money to keep their yard clean if we can’t use the blowers.”

The village is instead encouraging landscapers to transition to battery-powered electric leaf blowers—a quieter and emission-free alternative—that other municipalities like East Hampton Village and Southampton Town have been pushing for as well.

“I think their industry is moving in a direction of more quiet communities … so most of them recognize that they’re going to go more toward electric blowers and landscaping equipment, and some of them have made the commitment already,” Mr. Irving said. “So I think that they all realize that this is the direction their industry is going in, and we’re just moving ahead with it.”

Landscapers throughout the East End have opposed making the switch to electric leaf blowers at various municipal board meetings in the past, citing financial burdens and a lack of efficiency from electrical equipment.

The only regulation that the village currently has on construction work and leaf blowers is noise standards. Village code states that from 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., sound cannot exceed 65 decibels in a residential district, and cannot exceed 70 decibels in a commercial district. The noise standards apply to gas-powered leaf blowers from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

Mr. Irving said that the noise standards have always been difficult to enforce. If these new laws are implemented, he said that the village fire marshal’s office would enforce the code. “And I’m sure if there’s violations, police will also be called,” he added. Mr. Jones said he sees the leaf blower ban to be easily enforceable, but not the time restraints.

The mayor is anticipating a high turnout at the public hearings.

“I’m sure that there’s going to be a number of landscapers that are there,” Mr. Irving said. “There’s a mixed opinion on using electric blowers. Some are very favorable, some aren’t. I’m sure the general public will be there. The use of leaf blowers was a constant, constant call for us.”

The public hearings will take place at the Southampton Village Board meeting on January 22 at 6 p.m. at Village Hall.

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Mr Mayor is blowing wind. Always leaning to special interest groups. Do as I say , not as I do.
Exempt? Why golf courses, tennis and beaches [ special interests].
By knitter (1893), Southampton on Jan 16, 19 12:55 PM
Time to fire up the leaf blower !!!!!
Just more government involvement
By Local247 (36), Southampton on Jan 16, 19 5:55 PM
1 member liked this comment
Southampton is getting as bad as East Hampton. This appears to b e nothing more than a money grab for permits, licensing and registrations. Pretty soon you won't be able to swing a hammer to nail aboard or for that mater, swing a bat to hit a ball. Oh, too much noise. We are losing businesses left and right in the Village ... even HSBC, a long time resident is leaving as of March. Blue Duck was forced out by an unreasonable landlord ... better to look at controlling monopolies.
By jediscuba (71), Suthampton on Jan 17, 19 11:34 AM
1 member liked this comment
What’s more concearning is allowing construction and landscape vehicles to park on the street in the bike lanes. Something has to be done about that.
By anapple (3), Southampton on Jan 17, 19 12:12 PM
I applaud this effort. The environmental damage done from both the emissions these machines create, and the substantial and prolonged noise they emit are significant and deserve regulation. The quiet enjoyment of all our homes is worth adjusting too. I applaud this move and hope the town will follow suit.
By rouff11 (9), water mill on Jan 17, 19 2:06 PM
The drone of leaf blowers goes on for 10 months a year. There’s no escaping it. This is a step in the right direction. Sounds of summer used to be kids playing and birds singing. Now it’s leaf blowers, sickening.
By Fred s (3173), Southampton on Jan 17, 19 2:14 PM
By Draggerman (940), Southampton on Jan 18, 19 9:19 AM
1 member liked this comment
Don’t get whiplash
By Fred s (3173), Southampton on Jan 18, 19 12:22 PM
Pesticides and fertilizers are so much more of a problem than leaf blower noise - limit the focus
By adlkjd923ilifmac.aladfksdurwp (740), southampton on Jan 18, 19 4:16 PM
1 member liked this comment
Can see a new hire to take care of enforcement.$$$ Another money pit. Mike, you are not in easthampton..
Why not tennis clubs, golf courses? Many mini golf hole in the village [exempt]? They have neighbors also???
By knitter (1893), Southampton on Jan 25, 19 10:29 AM
power tools, home improvements, building supplies, Eastern Long Island