Leaf blowers could bite the dust in Basalt | AspenTimes.com

Leaf blowers could bite the dust in Basalt

Scott Condon
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

BASALT – Basalt resident Bernard Moffroid wants to know what’s wrong with a good old-fashioned rake to collect leaves, and a broom to sweep dust.

The high pitch of leaf blowers interrupts the tranquility of the usually peaceful town, Moffroid said. His patience ran out last winter when one was being regularly used by the maintenance crew at a particular building downtown, even though not a leaf could be found. A worker was using it to scatter dust.

“The thing is, they’ve been using this leaf blower in February,” Moffroid said. “The noise was just driving me nuts.”

At times, the whine of leaf blower engines is intense enough to chase him off the deck of his house, which overlooks downtown Basalt.

Moffroid asked Town Manager Bill Kane about the possibility of a ban on leaf blowers, and Kane suggested Moffroid pitch the idea to the Town Council. Moffroid made a brief presentation at the April 27 meeting, and the council directed its staff to see if other towns and cities are restricting or banning leaf blowers, and see if an association for Colorado municipalities could provide guidance. The staff is supposed to report back later this spring.

Moffroid’s Internet research indicated about 400 cities and towns nationwide have cracked down on leaf and dust blowers, with restrictions or bans. Aspen revised its noise ordinance in April 2003 to include gas-powered leaf blowers. Its environmental health department stepped up enforcement in summer 2005 after the city received numerous complaints about violations of the ban. Violators can be fined $500.

Basalt doesn’t have a noise ordinance that can be altered to control use of leaf blowers. Last year it approved a two-minute limit on idling for vehicles. Persistent use of a leaf blower can create more pollution than an idling car, so the town has additional grounds for a ban, Moffroid said.

Moffroid is anything but shy, so he tried to resolve the issue with the maintenance crew. He asked them to stop using the leaf blower so often, without luck. They seemed accommodating, but the shrill song of the blowers continued in March, then into spring.

The irony, Moffroid said, is the blowers don’t really save that much work. They move the leaves and dust from one place to another, but the debris still has to be collected.

“What did we do before leaf blowers?” he asked.