LETTER: Leaf Blower Guideline Is a Chance to Finally Take Back Our Lawns

Letter to the editor from Sandy Harris, Greenwich

(On March 19 Greenwich first Selectman Fred Camillo modified the town’s leaf blower ordinance).

I am writing in support of Fred Camillo’s limitation on the use of leaf blowers in Greenwich.  As an artist who works from home, I am acutely aware of how disruptive the noise can be to neighbors.  Now that we all have to be home, this limitation will improve our quality of life during a very trying time. And it can achieve that without compromising the beauty of our properties. With both parents and kids forced to hunker down for the unforeseeable future, anything we can do to make this quarantine less burdensome is a good thing.

Like many in this town, I don’t like the government restricting my liberties, and oppose senseless regulation.  But that does not mean there should be no rules.  When one person’s liberty impinges upon another’s, we need to know where to draw the line. Greenwich is a beautiful town, and I strongly support the rights of property owners to keep their properties beautiful. I also know that people come to Greenwich to escape the tumult of New York and Westchester. Fred’s guidelines strike a good balance.

When we moved to Greenwich 15 years ago, many residents hired gardening crews to maintain their properties.  These teams consisted of a few workers, usually only one with a back-held blower, who worked for a few hours and left with the yard immaculate. Over time these crews have grown and the number of blowers has increased dramatically, but somehow the job does not seem to have gotten faster. Many homeowners are not around to see this, but I have observed this first hand. It is wasteful and unnecessary. On one recent morning, I saw 5 workers with blowers walking back and forth on a lawn which had already long since had all its leaves removed.

Some residents may worry that a restriction on blowers will mean they have to pay more to maintain their properties or that their properties will look rundown without proper care.  While those are valid concerns, the new restrictions on leaf blowers will not have an adverse impact. Some time ago we noticed that the workers who maintain our property had gradually increased the number of blowers they employed but were not saving any time in their cleanups.  So, we asked them to use fewer blowers, rake where they needed and limit the blowing time to 1 hour.  And what do you know? They were able to make our two acres immaculate with those restrictions without increasing the time they took! We have a lot of leaves, but miraculously they are able to get it done.  It hasn’t increased our costs one bit, and we have a beautiful, peaceful property.

This is our chance to try new things to get the same job done. I believe if we just open our minds to this, and stop looking to improve on perfection in our yards, we will find that we don’t need multiple blowers at all, and we can get our beautiful and peaceful town back.

Sandra Harris