Koven: Support for Change to Greenwich Noise Ordinance to Limit Gas Powered Leaf Blowers

Submitted by Sophie Koven, Riverside

When Greenwich residents call Town Hall to complain, their number one complaint is the insistent, ear splitting noise of gas powered leaf blowers. The noise prevents people from working at home, relaxing in their yards, sleeping or studying. It wakes up babies from naps and makes dogs frantic. It has been nearly thirty years since the Board of Health created an exemption that allows for the use of gas powered leaf blowers in Greenwich. Our town noise ordinance limits noise to 55 decibels in residential areas — so you cannot blast your favorite music in your yard, but you can use gas leaf blowers, which easily exceed the 55 decibel level, 365 days a year.

On December 11th the RTM will have the opportunity to vote on a proposed change to the noise ordinance. The change would limit the use of gas powered leaf blowers in the warm weather months, May 1- September 30, when Greenwich residents most want to enjoy their yards and leave their windows open.

This proposed change was developed over two years with the input of many homeowners, landscapers, and elected officials. It allows the use of gas powered leaf blowers for the majority of the year, especially for the fall and spring clean ups, as well as for all emergency weather events.

Now is the time for this change, electric leaf blowers are more powerful than ever, they can easily handle the lighter landscaping demands of the summer months and are used by dozens of local landscaping companies already. They are widely available, no more expensive than gas powered leaf blowers, and far cheaper to fuel and maintain. They are much better for the health of operators. Twenty four neighboring towns have already put summer time restrictions in place, and landscapers have adapted without any economic hardship.

Quiet Yards Greenwich is already working towards creating a fund to help offset the cost of buying electric blowers for landscapers and residents who wish to switch over to quieter equipment.

It’s time to take back our summers. Greenwich is a place for grilling in the backyard, playing basketball in the driveway and chatting with neighbors on the porch. All of those activities are drowned out by the noise and fumes of gas powered leaf blowers. Let’s join the growing number of towns, well over 200 nationwide, that have restricted their use. Greenwich is a beautiful town, let’s enjoy it!

Sophie Koven, Riverside