A quaint North Shore town has joined the ranks of other municipalities in limiting the use of gas-powered leaf blowers, which residents often describe as a public nuisance and threat to the environment.
In Marblehead, using them will be banned from Memorial Day through Labor Day, according to town officials, and residents who fail to comply with the new summer bylaw could face hefty fines.
Residents can report violations to the police and health departments, who have the authority to address the incidents, officials said. Violators will be issued a written warning at first, but a second violation will result in a $100 fine, with additional infractions costing $200. The ban applies to landscapers as well, though they will only be told to cease using the equipment.
It does not apply to electric-powered leaf blowers, officials said, and the gas-powered equipment is permitted during the rest of the year.
Officials acknowledged the contentious nature of the issue, asking residents to abide by the restrictions “regardless of where you stand.”
More than 100 cities and towns across the country have banned or curtailed the use of gas-powered leaf blowers.
Several communities in Massachusetts have cracked down on the lawn tools, including Newton, Somerville, Arlington, Brookline, and Cambridge. Tensions have often run high in places with restrictions, often pitting neighbor against neighbor, residents against landscapers, and environmental advocates against yard companies.
Landscapers have lamented the loss of what they regard as the most powerful tool available to clean up yards, but others have pointed to the equipment’s negative environmental and public health impacts, citing the inefficient use of energy and the emissions they produce.
Exposure to the toxic compounds that are released, for example, can increase the risk of respiratory illness and cardiovascular disease, experts said.
The ban in Marblehead has left some people angry, with commenters on the police department’s Facebook post about the rule pledging not to follow it. But others supported the move, noting that gas-powered leaf blowers “send particulates into the air that we breath,” as one person wrote.
“The noise is harmful to the operators as well as neighbors and wildlife. I love it that they are finally forbidden,” the person wrote.