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Greenwich Weighs New Fines, Bans on Leaf Blowers

GREENWICH, Conn. – Greenwich residents may not be able to use gas-powered leaf blowers every day of the week and could face up to $249 in fines for violating the ordinances if a proposal by Selectman Drew Marzullo is approved.

“People have a right to quiet time, but people have the right to maintain their lawns as they choose,” Marzullo said.

He plans to formally make his proposals on the much-debated leaf blower issue at the Board of Selectman’s first meeting in March. He headed a group that met this month to examine the issue and came up with changes that emphasize enforcement and education. This week, Marzullo released a plan.

In Greenwich, a noise ordinance restricts the use of gasoline-powered leaf blowers to one per parcel, regardless of the size of the parcel, from Memorial Day to Labor Day. The machines are also restricted to 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. Violators face fines of $100.

Marzullo proposed to ban gas-powered leaf blowers Sundays and fine residents on a sliding scale for violations. A first offense would warrant a warning and education; a second offense would result in a $100 fine; and three or more offenses would fine an individual or landscaping company $249.

Marzullo added he believes the homeowner, not necessarily a landscaping company, is responsible for what occurs on a property. However, he also says the town should look at creating a system to identify landscaping companies that operate in the town and require them to register.

Currently, the numbers of leaf blowers used on a property differs by the size of a lot. Marzullo said this is impractical, and police officers should have a more standard rule to enforce. He suggests making the ordinance differ according to where the leaf blowers are being operated – in the backcountry or downtown.

This is not the first time the leaf blower issue has reached the ears of Greenwich lawmakers. In the 1990s, the town amended its noise ordinance to restrict use of gas-powered leaf blowers from 6 p.m. to 8 a.m. weekdays and 3 p.m. to 9 a.m. weekends and holidays.

The Greenwich group Citizens Against Leafblower Mania, also known as CALM , proposed a six-month ban last year. "I grew up here. There have always been beautiful estates, properties and manicured lawns before we had leaf blowers, so I'm sure we can get by without them," said Gretchen Biggs, founder of CALM who spoke at a panel in June.

However, the Greenwich Board of Health nixed the changes, leaving the Board of Selectmen to take up the issue.

Marzullo is encouraging residents to attend and voice their opinions at the board’s March 1 meeting at 10 a.m. in the Greenwich Town Hall Meeting Room. The board is expected to vote on the proposal at its March 15 meeting. If approved, it may be placed on the agenda for the March meeting of the Representative Town Meeting.

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