Mount Kisco will consider regulating leaf blowers and other landscaping equipment after a plan proposed last week that would limit the months and hours of operation and eventually phase out a certain type of engine.
In a presentation by the village trustee Peter Grunthal and Lilian Burgler resident Lilian Burgler, the original proposal would ban all gas-powered devices during the summer months and allow the use of the gas-powered devices mainly during business hours and for part of the day on Saturday and Saturday forbid their use of two-stroke engines after a period of several years.
The proposal also includes lawn mowers, chainsaws and weed killers.
“When I came back here and put down roots, I really want my kids to be able to play outside, go for a walk on an autumn Sunday and smell the leaves and enjoy the outdoors,” said Burlger of her motivation to work on the initiative. “I want to be able to work from home and not hear this extreme stressor that is constantly distracting.”
She said the majority of Westchester communities now have leaf blower restrictions that put Mount Kisco behind many of its neighbors. Mount Kisco is the newest law enforcement community in the region. In recent years, Bedford and New Castle have enacted regulations among local towns and cities that put various restrictions in place in the hopes of limiting noise and reducing carbon emissions. Other places like Pleasantville, Greenburgh, and Croton-on-Hudson are also weighing the limits of their uses.
One goal of the legislation would be to ban the use of two-stroke machines and encourage more residents to opt for machines with four-stroke engines or electric fans, Grunthal said. Leaf blowers with two-stroke engines averaged at least 80 decibels, compared to about 70 decibels for four-stroke, non-oil-burning engines and 60 decibels for electric blowers.
Under the plan, introduced last week, all types of gas-powered machines are allowed from October 1st through April 30th. They are operated Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. The rest of Saturday and Sunday would be forbidden.
The use of two-stroke engines that contain oil and gas, thereby causing greater pollution, would no longer be allowed for residents after December 31, 2024. The village government and schools would have to expire their use by December 31, 2026.
Furthermore, no more than two machines can be operated at the same time in any residential property.
Grunthal said Mount Kisco has lots of residential properties that are smaller than most other parishes in north Westchester. Therefore, it is imperative that the village set limits on the noisy and unhealthy equipment. The generally smaller lots in the village should also make the use of electric leaf blowers more practical than in cities with much larger lots.
“I’m introducing it because the sound of leaf blowers is basically unbearable,” said Grunthal. “When you sit at home, not just in your yard, but with the doors and windows closed in your house, you can still hear these machines and you can hear them at such a high volume that they can distract you from everything else. ”
The fines for the first offense would be $ 25, increasing to $ 500 for the second offense and $ 1,000 for the third and each subsequent offense, Burgler said.
Other village officials agreed that regulations should be put in place to curb noise and air pollution from gas-powered landscaping equipment, but suggested a revision of the proposal made last week.
“I think the legislation is a wonderful idea and very much needed,” said Trustee David Squirrell. “I think it needs to be adjusted here and there, and I fully support the exception for the single homeowner who uses a lawnmower.”
Mayor Gina Picinich said she recognized the need to regulate leaf blowers in particular, but would like to see some changes to hours and dates. Homeowners should have a better chance of looking after their property when they get home from work in the late afternoon and more hours on the weekend. She also said the ban could start later from May 1 to September 30.
“That limits an individual home owner’s ability to do their gardening after 5 when they get home from work or whenever they want, on a Saturday or Sunday,” Picinich said.
Other suggestions came from village manager Ed Brancati, who said the board could consider making use of the equipment subject to the village’s noise ordinance. A distinction may also need to be made between the various condominium and cooperative complexes that use commercial landscapers.
The village attorney, Whitney Singleton, recommended that the board keep the law as simple as possible. For example, if there are too many exceptions and differences between engine types, enforcement would be difficult.
“I think restricting or even banning gas-powered leaf blowers, something very clean, is appropriate and enforceable,” Singleton said.
Grunthal and Burgler said they would work on the proposal and return to the board with revisions at a future meeting.
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