A citizen petition warrant article will appear on the Annual Town Meeting warrant in March that proposes banning the use of gas powered leaf blowers, except on commercial and town-owned property and property at institutional settings like Wellesley College and Babson College.
Battery-powered and electric blowers would still be allowed.
Sara Preston, the resident behind the warrant article, said her reasons for promoting discussion of the issue are the environmental and noise impacts of the gas-powered blowers.
The combination of emissions from the blowers' engines and the particulate matter spread by the wind they produce is toxic, she told Wellesley Local Town Pages.
"In addition to the junk that they're blowing around, like fecal matter and mold, which is bad enough for any of us to inhale," Preston said, "you add the pure gasoline spewed out [due to the lack of a catalytic converter], and you have benzene and formaldehyde."
As for noise, Preston pointed to a year-2000 California Environmental Protection Agency study that she said shows that blowers' decibel levels may cause health problems, including hearing loss in bystanders but especially in the landscapers themselves.
"This is not just a neighborhood issue; it's an [Occupational Safety and Health Issue] issue. The most harmed person is the landscaper using it," Preston argued.
But local landscapers say that a ban on gas powered blowers would hurt their businesses while unfairly driving up prices for their Wellesley customers.
"My customers would have to pay about 10 times more to have their yards picked up," said Joe Indresano of Joe Indresano Landscaping, "and I would be limited to doing about 50 lawns a week instead of 200 lawns... Instead of being out there for an hour, it would probably take three or four hours. I'll do whatever my customers ask me to do, but the price would have to be higher."
Another local landscaper, who asked not to be named, said such a bylaw would be "like telling you not to use a washing machine anymore and work by hand."
"Hopefully [manufacturers] can make a quieter blower" in the future, he added, "but to try to stop us from using them now, it's going to kill our business."
Preston said that both the intent and wording of the proposed bylaw could change as it is discussed in public meetings with various town boards and committees - from whom she will seek endorsements - in the lead-up to Town Meeting: "There is a lot of work before the final verbiage is printed."
Passage of the proposed bylaw will require a yes vote by a simple majority of the town's 240 Town Meeting Members.