GREENWICH — Citing complaints of “incessant loud noise and toxic fumes,”A new citizen group is calling for the town to limit the amount of crime. “excessive”Gas-powered leaf blowers can be used in towns.

Elizabeth Dempsey Jane Brash was the first to form Quiet Yards Greenwich. They presented their report on leaf-blower usage to the Board of Selectmen last Thursday with the intention of provoking a discussion.

“With the popularity of working from home, Greenwich residents have complained on local blogs to the police and to town officials about the excessive use of leaf blowers surrounding their homes year round,”Dempsey spoke to the board.

Dempsey explained that nearly 600 people were surveyed by the group, which included landscape companies, residents, and employees of those businesses that use gas- or electric-powered blowers.

“The results were clear,”She spoke. “Everyone said there is a problem and actions should be taken.”

Quiet Yards Greenwich is looking for “common sense, balanced solutions that improve residential quality of life,”Dempsey confirmed. She stated that the group is willing and able to work with landscape businesses to make changes gradually without putting a burden onto their businesses.

“Many residents have moved from urban areas and chose Greenwich for open space and tranquility,”Dempsey stated. “Our survey shows residents want relief from the incessant loud noise and toxic fumes that seem non-stop from spring to fall and sometimes into winter.”

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They said that more than 200 municipalities in the country have established rules for the use of gas-powered leaf blowers.

The group did not make any specific proposals Thursday. Quiet Yards Greenwich’s founders stated that they want to present their data and support evidence in a whitepaper to the Board of Selectmen.

“In order to choose the right direction for Greenwich, decision-makers should have access to the latest research and data on public opinion and understand the needs of our landscape companies,”Dempsey stated. “They should have detailed information about all available options.”

Dempsey stated that they believe there are solutions that can be found to balance landscape choices and protect landscape businesses while promoting quality of living.

The selectmen indicated that this was a good first step.

“I love the work you put into this,” First Selectman Fred Camillo said. “I definitely want to see this moving forward, personally. I know sometimes crawling before you walk is a way to avoid the shock of moving too quickly.”

Lauren Rabin, Selectwoman, said that she was eager for more information from the report.

“Noise is as much a form of pollution as anything else,” Selectwoman Janet Stone McGuigan said.

Reduce noise

Quiet Yards organizers claimed that leaf blowers with the highest noise levels are those at the source. They can be heard from 50 feet away, while the noise levels of the most popular models are between 65 and 75 decibels.

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“The noise frequency from this equipment carries long distances, penetrating walls and windows. Chronic loud noise damages hearing, contributes to hypertension, lost productivity and can impair children’s learning,”Brash stated, outlining the health problems.

The force of the toolShe said that it can also pose dangers.

“At speeds of 150 to 280 mph, the powerful air jet of a single gas-powered leaf blower can disperse up to 5 pounds of particulates from the ground into the air every hour,”She spoke.

“Studies have shown that these particulates, which are small enough to be inhaled, may linger suspended in the air for a week or longer. Many of these particulates are carcinogenic and commonly include pesticides, herbicides, fertilizer, animal feces, pollen and mold,”Brash stated.

Citizens Against Leaf blower Madness (or CALM) pushed the Representative Town Meeting into approving a proposed ordinance that would have banned gas-powered leaf blowers from private property and imposed fines for those who violated the ban.

The RTM in June 2012 voted 76 to 93 against the measure.

Camillo stated that he had placed a restriction on leaf blower usage at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic because many people work from home. But that restriction, along with Camillo’s emergency powers, expired last year, he said.

Moving forward

Camillo suggested that Quiet Yards look at short-term objectives and put together a detailed strategy. “Doing nothing is not an option,”He said.

“Eventually there is going to be some pushback,”Camillo spoke about possible rules regarding leaf blowers. “Not only from professional landscapers but from some of their customers who feel they’re going to be stuck with higher bills. … Enacting some more short-term options and putting in place a timeline to achieve the longer-term ones (makes sense). It will give people some time.

“When we went to recycling in 1989, lots of people were complaining and didn’t want to do it but we guided them and went slowly and it became second nature to people,”He said.

Dempsey stated that Quiet Yards Greenwich was “a broad representation of Greenwich itself”This includes parents, business owners, landscapers and real estate agents, as well as members and members of the RTM and other town body bodies like the Conservation Commission and Sustainability Committee.

The issue affects everyone — even those who don’t use gas-powered leaf blowers, they said. The “noise and the impact of gas blowers travels across our property lines through our walls”Dempsey stated that this prevents residents enjoying their yards and homes.

She said that other nearby towns are also taking action, including restrictions on the use of Westchester municipalities and outright bans. Stamford also has a citizen effortTo limit the use gas-powered leaf blowers.

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