A seasonal ban of gas-powered commercial leaf blowers may cost the Township of Maplewood in legal fees.
The New Jersey Landscape Contractors Association and nine landscape businesses filed a civil suit against the Township on October 20.
According to NJ.com, the crux of the suit is the Association’s contention that the ban is unfair and unevenly applied. The Association claims that the Township owns and operates five gas-powered blowers and that residents and other entities that violate other parts of the ordinance ban do not face similar penalties.
Read for the full NJ.com report here.
In April, the Maplewood Township Committee voted unanimously (5-0) to approve an ordinance to ban the use of gas-powered leaf blowers by commercial landscapers between May 15 and Sept. 30.
However, landscapers are still allowed to use electric leaf blowers.
Township Committee members — particularly Mayor Victor De Luca, Deputy Mayor Nancy Adams and Committee person Greg Lembrich — voiced exasperation with landscapers whom they say had not complied with a previous ordinance to deal with the noise levels over the past 14 years.
Adams, who was a major proponent of the ordinance, called out landscapers on “best practices,” saying that the use of the blowers was blowing both topsoil and pesticides off of lawns and into the streets, negatively impacting the lawns as well as the environment. She also recalled catching landscapers in the act of violating the pilot ban in the summer of 2016, only to find them moving their operation a few blocks away and violating the ban again, even after being warned.
Many commercial landscapers spoke at the April Township Committee meeting. Although some offered suggestions such an exemption for the use of leaf blowers in cleaning up after tree removal, others were more confrontational. One landscaper said that it was on the Township to enforce the previous law. Lembrich shot back that it was on landscapers to “obey the law.”
Reached for comment on Tuesday, Adams told Village Green that she stood by the ordinance: “I am proud of the comprehensive work and research we did in drafting this ordinance, and of our coordination with BCB Bank to offer lower interest loans to businesses that want to transition to greener equipment. Due to the pending litigation, I cannot comment further.”
Village Green will continue to follow this story.