Ridgefield residents are divided over the use of gas-powered leaf blowers.

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Recently, I outlined the debate in a an titled: "This Connecticut Town's War on Noise: Gas Leaf Blowers Under Scrutiny - Will Silence Triumph?" In an effort to gather more information from the inside, we spoke to Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi on Wednesday (12/06/23).

Lou: Tell us what is going on with this leaf blower thing. We understand there are a lot of people feel very strongly about leaf blowers in Ridgefield. Some want them restricted, some want them banned and then another group who says, leave my leaf blower alone. What do you have to say about all of this? 

Marconi: "True, you hit the nail on the head. There are people that are environmentally sensitive and feel that the noise that the blowers make. All of us have heard them throughout the week and weekends, especially on a Saturday or Sunday morning early if they start but it is a loud noise and it can be intrusive. There are those who feel we should regulate to a certain extent, the use of those internal combustion engines. There are also people on the other side who feel that the petition as-presented is quite restrictive to the point of giving you about 45 days to use them both in the spring and the fall like October to November or November the 15th, whatever the date is. Also, the seasons have changed, you know the leaves are still on the trees going into December easily and a lot of cleanup is taking place beyond those dates. So, there are a multitude of issues with it and people are objecting to it."

Lou: These restrictions could really impact landscaping companies. If you limit the time period and then if they have to go to all electric, they have to change out their whole fleet of equipment at a great cost. What do you say about that? 

Marconi: "Yeah, the financial consequences can be severe after all, these companies, for the most part are not cash rich. They pay their crews, they put bread on the table, hopefully make enough to pay for education for their children but it is a sizable investment. One of the major blowers, you could spend nine, ten, twelve thousand dollars on a piece of equipment. So if we were to implement the ordinance as stated then they would have one year to make accommodations and that is really I think, not fair"

Ethan: New Fairfield has no ordinance about using these and my neighbor went on a cruise when he realized my lawn guy was going to use four leaf blowers to blow my lawn and he's not back yet. Haha.

Marconi: "It can be imposing but my belief is that the petition will be  withdrawn this morning, yeah. It hasn't happened yet so I'm a little hesitant to be saying that on the open air but I did receive a call yesterday. What we'll be doing if everything goes according to plan is establishing a task force with a good cross-section of people. Those who are environmentally conscious and want to do something, those who are in the landscaping business. those who are neutral and put together a task force to sit down and see what can be done and the timelines, etc. So, that is a great way to approach it I believe." 

Lou: So, the petition will be withdrawn so I assume there is no longer a town meeting on December 13, right you all had scheduled one? 

Marconi: "Correct, we had a public hearing scheduled for December 13th and the town meeting on January 3rd to fit within that 45-day window and and that will be canceled."

Lou: What is your personal feeling on this leaf blower deal? You're at home, in your kitchen thinking out loud, what are you saying about this? 

Marconi: "Well I have my own leaf blower, lawnmower, weed trimmer, I do my own lawn. They are loud, I have an electric weed whacker which is fabulous, absolutely fabulous, I wouldn't even go back to the gas weed whacker I had. The gas blower I have, the handheld doesn't have nearly the CFM or the cubic feet per minute of air flow that the backpack has."


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RECAP:

  • The petition that would restrict the use of gas-powered leaf blowers is likely to be withdrawn.
  • The Town of Ridgefield will appoint a task force that will work towards an equitable future for all sides.
  • The December 13th Town meeting will be canceled.

Check out the entire leaf blower discussion below. You will hear Rudy discuss the role social media plays in managing these debates and more about how petitions create action in Ridgefield.

The complete interview will be featured in an upcoming article that will hopefully close the book on a fiery incident in town.

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