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Some landscapers say new Burlington leaf blower ordinance could hurt business

Published: Apr. 25, 2021 at 10:19 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Soon, you won’t be allowed to use certain types of leaf blowers in Burlington during the summer. This month, the freshly sworn-in Burlington City Council unanimously passed an ordinance saying so.

“Just pray for us that other towns don’t follow suit,” said Fred Bell, the owner of Freddie’s Lawn Care and Snowplowing.

Bell has owned the landscaping business for 20 years, and now he’s worried Burlington’s new ordinance could be a blow to business. The new ordinance prohibits using gas-powered leaf blowers from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Only electric or battery-powered blowers under 65 decibels per lot may be used.

“During the summer months, when people are outside the most in Vermont, this ordinance would curtail the use of gas-powered blowers, which are detrimental to the environment. They’re harmful to the ozone. They’re also very noisy, in favor of battery-charged blowers only,” said Burlington City Councilor Karen Paul, D-Ward 6.

For the rest of the year, only certain, quieter gas-powered blowers are permitted. This is leaving some local landscaping companies concerned about how much this could cost them and, in turn, their customers.

“It’s going to mean more money out of their pockets because if you have to buy electric blowers, they’ll probably never have an electric blower that’s as strong as a gas-powered blower,” said Troy Lund, the president of Lund’s Landscape Services. “So, if you’re trying to pick up leaves and do a cleanup job and it takes you three times as long, now that cleanup that’s $300 is going to be a $900 cleanup.”

The ordinance will be phased in starting with the city of Burlington departments this summer, followed by larger landscaping companies in the fall, smaller ones in the winter, then personal residential use by summer 2022.

Landscapers say that the battery-powered technology just isn’t there to get the big jobs they have done. Also, the more powerful they are, the noisier, which could create a major issue during spring and fall cleanups. Bell says he’s worried that blowers are just the first step in moving away from gas-powered equipment completely.

“But, I feel if they’ve gone to blowers, they’re going to go to mowers. I see it coming right down the road -- electric mowers,” said Bell.

Burlington Electric is offering rebates for electric blowers. The company is offering up to $200 off for commercial users. However, some landscapers say they pay nearly $1,000 for one blower. Residents using blowers for personal use get $40 off an electric or battery-powered blower.

You can read the full ordinance here.

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Burlington to limit use of gas-powered leaf blowers

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