On Tuesday, the Montclair Township Council will introduce an ordinance prohibiting the use of gas-powered leaf blowers in town.

Concerned residents have shown up to town council meetings for years, calling for Montclair to eliminate the use of gas leaf blowers in town year round, citing noise pollution and environmental risks caused by leaf blowers that are detrimental to the health and spirit of the town.

Montclair would not be the first town in the area to pass such legislation — Maplewood passed similar legislation in 2022. And since 2021, Montclair has had a partial ban on leaf blowers that lasts from May 15 to October 15.

Councilors Bob Russo, Peter Yacobellis, Robin Schlager and Lori Price Abrams will introduce the ban Tuesday.

At a May council meeting, Russo spoke of the ordinance and the opportunity for Montclair to help set a standard.

“So many excuses for not leading the way here,” Russo said at the meeting. “Hopefully, a majority of the council will set a progressive policy for Montclair, so we continue to be a leader in environmental health and sustainability.”

In his July 10 newsletter, Yacobellis expressed his support for the ordinance, while also acknowledging the difficulty of the issue.

“ I’ve struggled a lot with this issue because I’ve always felt that we should have a reasonable phase-in period of one year,” Yacobellis said in the newsletter. “But once you come to really learn the science behind why these machines are so awful and why other places like East Hampton, Maplewood, Washington DC, and the entire State of California have banned them; it’s hard to not address it sooner than later.”

Mayor Sean Spiller has also stated his support for the ordinance.

“Taking care of our outdoor township space and parks, and taking care of our environment needn’t be at odds with one another,” Spiller said in his July 16 newsletter. “Viable alternatives, including electric power, exist and we have an opportunity to move to healthier and more sustainable options.”

For many landscaping companies working in Montclair, the ban would have a significant effect on business.

“If the ban is passed as described, Gaia Gardens can no longer provide service for seasonal clean-ups in Montclair,” Daria Paxton, owner of Gaia Gardens LLC, said in an email to customers last week.

All existing fall estimates and contracts would be annulled.

The work would take seven to eight times longer using only battery-powered tools, and the number of batteries needed for a day of work would exceed any capacity to charge them, Paxton said. One battery takes four to five hours to charge, and a fully-charged battery lasts for approximately 45 minutes.

“I think you can all see the snowball forming here,” Paxton said. “Essentially it’s untenable and cost-prohibitive.”

She would also need to double her workforce to make up for the extended schedule, which would require purchasing two more trucks.

“I have been very carefully trying to understand how to accommodate blower bans and have been using battery technology for the past 5 years,” Paxton said. “As those of you who know me know, I try to make all of the tools as efficient and effective as possible.”

Gaia Gardens has adapted their prices to compensate for battery-powered handheld and backpack blowers used in the summer months, in line with the existing ordinance. But, the tool needed for the spring and fall cleanups — a walk-behind push blower — is gas-powered. A battery-powered version does not exist, Paxton said.

“What we can not accommodate is the lack of any electric model of walk-behind push blower (4-cycle engine), which is absolutely crucial to spring and fall clean-ups (seasonal clean-ups),” Paxton said in the email. “The machine does not exist, and is the primary tool used during spring and fall clean-ups.”

Another landscaping company, PeterPaul Landscapes LLC, also reached out to customers about the ordinance.

“Your spring and fall cleanup cost will increase,” owner P. Paul Fogarty said in the email to customers. “You will have leaves on your lawn and driveway in the fall. Your fall cleanup may not be done.”

In his message, Fogarty gave an example of the electric blower cost increase — a client’s 2023 spring cleanup jumped from $440 to $2,070, due primarily to the increase in time it took to complete the job.

“Electric blowers may be the future, but the equipment currently available cannot do the job of gas blowers,” Fogarty said. “For example: to clean up fall leaves, a gas ground blower is used to collect leaves. There is no electric ground blower available. This means crews will need to use backpack blowers, rakes and tarps to collect leaves. Drastically increasing expenses.”

Fograty directed concerned customers to contact council members and go to the Tuesday council meeting.

Some landscaping companies have already made the jump to eliminating gas-powered blowers, such as Blue Sky Green Earth which operates only on electric power.

“From our lawnmowers to our vehicle batteries, we’re dedicated to minimizing our carbon footprint and promoting sustainable practices in every aspect of our business,” Blue Sky Green Earth’s website says. “We take care of your lawn, the environment and our employees health.”

— Talia Wiener/Montclair Local

19 replies on “Montclair Council to Introduce Ban on Gas-Powered Leaf Blowers”

  1. So, a bunch of people move to a town known for its treelined streets, beautiful homes, and manicured yards, and decide to show if you stomp your feet you can disrupt things. Does anyone really believe banning leaf blowers will make a difference to the environment? Montclair is under the flight path to 3 airports. Jet fuel exhaust is dumped on us every day. Batteries are good thing? Tell that to people who live in the countries being devastated by reckless mining. How about the toxic chemicals leaching off the solar panels? Should I go on for a couple more pages?
    So who gets hurt here? Not the wealthy because they can absorb the additional cost, not the apartment dwellers, not the people with small yards, but the middle class. When you move next store to steel mill you shouldn’t complain about the noise. You get used to it or move. Same thing should have happened in Montclair. You want to live in a commune, move to a commune. Of all the environmental threats to Montclair leaf blowers aren’t even a blip.
    Let’s go old school and bring out the rakes! Rake those leaves into a pile and light them on fire. The smoke will blot out the sun and fight global warming. Too bad the council has no spine to stand up and do the logical thing. Wait to this fall when the bills roll in. Most of the citizens don’t pay attention to what’s going on until it hits their wallet.

  2. flipside,

    No worries. This ordinance is not enforceable as written. BTW, I like the ordinance’s intent. I have had electric equipment for 8-9 years.

    This execution is just lacking. I am shocked people have spent over a year of their time to get this right. The legal experts should known better.

    I would explain all this to the Council & advocates during Tuesday’s introduction, but neither wants remote public comment so they don’t allow it.

    So, I am going to let them introduce it, have their public hearing next month and then pass it. I’ll wait the 30 days to allow it to become law and then I’m going to blow it up when is suits me.

    PS: enjoy the $111,000 we just spent on CY2023 tree plantings.

  3. Did anyone actually read Maplewood’s leaf blower ordinance (§159)? The one on their municipal website. Under Government, Township Clerk > Municipal Code.

  4. Frank,
    As usual you go above and beyond. The Maplewood ordinance is comical. The homeowner pays a fine too. Not sure that will hold up in court. Good thing Montclair loves law suits. Landscapers can use gas powered Buffalo Blowers pulled by….you guessed it! A gas powered tractor, riding mower, or a couple guys. Appearances are everything. I feel much better now though my initial reaction from my landscaper is that cleanups will probably double. Another Montclair “woke tax” ready to hit the books.

  5. Following up on Frank’s comment, Maplewood’s ordinance permits gas-powered turbine blowers between May 1 and September 30, but not “noisier” blowers. Use of any blower, even electric, outside certain hours can lead to a $500 fine for the first offense, $1,000 for the second offense, and $1,500 for subsequent offenses. There also are fines for failing to provide ear protections for workers. The ban only took effect on January 1 of this year, after the last leaf season, so it will be interesting to see what happens when the leaves fall in a few months and Maplewood has to confront the logistical problems it has created.

    Since Councilor Yacobellis invoked East Hampton as a model for Montclair: East Hampton only bars use of gas leaf blowers during the summer (guess why), not in other seasons. All East Hampton residents can use gas leaf blowers themselves in other seasons, and you can hire someone to use them if your property is more than an acre. So much for East Hampton being an example of a total ban; it just ain’t so.

    Look, I totally get it. Gas leaf blowers are terrible for the environment and create noise pollution as bad as the air pollution. Landscapers operating in Montclair partly brought this situation on themselves by overusing leaf blowers outside leaf season when they’re just not necessary. All this being said, however, you can’t will technology into existence, and I think the skeptics are right about it being too soon for Montclair to do this.

    If it were me, I wouldn’t act on this until December. By then, we can see how Maplewood fared. And, not for nothing, there’s a municipal election coming up just a few months afterwards. Let’s have a real debate about this, not pass something in the dead of summer before the majority of the town has had a chance to realize what’s happening and what it could mean.

    Oh, and by the way, has anyone asked what it will cost for our Township’s public works department to refit with electric blowers, and whether they’ll be able to maintain our parks using only electric blowers?

  6. Is the turbine/turbo blower referenced in the maplewood ordinance the same as or similar to the ground blower that Fogarty mentions?

    Regardless, I stand by my comments made before the last Council meeting. The technology is not advanced enough to do the job in a similar fashion, time, and expense level as gas-powered blowers are.

    We bought a piece of crap property that was completely overgrown including trees growing adjacent to the foundation. We paid a lot of money to get it cleared and to put in nice landscaping and hardscaping. Now the Council will make us spend 3-4x as much as we do now to get the spring and fall cleanups done (and will no doubt raise our taxes at the same time).

    These people will never get my vote going forward.

  7. After years of back-and-forth with the Town Council and much consternation, flipside poses the question, “does anyone really believe banning leaf blowers will make a difference to the environment?” The answer to that question is a resounding “yes”. A view held firmly by many of the environmentally conscious residents here.

    A typical leaf blower reportedly utilizes just 60 percent of its fuel – the rest is spewed into the atmosphere. The two-stroke gas engines that power most leaf blowers use is an old technology that has been phased out in nearly all areas, except for landscaping. Apparently what is off-limits for driving and boating apparently remains just fine for residential neighborhoods and the “treelined streets, beautiful homes, and manicured yards” of Montclair, as he puts it.

    According to one study as far back as 2011, engineers at, the national on-line resource for automotive information, car reviews and testing, estimated that driving a 6200 lb. Ford F-150 pickup truck from Texas to Alaska would emit the same amount of air pollution as a mere half-hour of yard work with a two-stroke, gas-powered leaf blower. Additionally, the study estimated that some gas powered leaf blowers generate twenty-three times the amount of carbon dioxide than a Ford F-150 and 300 times more hydrocarbons. Worse yet, gas-powered leaf blowers also emit nitrous oxide. The EPA estimates that the impact of one pound of nitrous oxide on global warming is almost 300 times that of an equivalent pound of carbon dioxide.

    He goes on to minimize these effects by comparing them to air traffic noise pollution, jet fuel exhaust and batteries, and then attempts to guilt us into shame by conflating with “reckless mining and toxic chemicals leaching off the solar panels.”

    “You get used to it or move. Same thing should have happened in Montclair. You want to live in a commune, move to a commune. Of all the environmental threats to Montclair leaf blowers aren’t even a blip.” I suggest that flipside get used to it or move to a toxic wasteland like Linden or Bayonne. He’d seem more content there.

    So yes, enough of us stomped our feet loud and often enough that tonight the Montclair Township Council will finally introduce an ordinance prohibiting the use of gas-powered leaf blowers. As David Crosby wrote, “it’s been a long time coming.”

  8. The landscapers have brought this on themselves. I was fine with allowing leaf blowers during fall and spring. But every landscaper near my home flagrantly flouts the law, still using the blowers year-round and outside of permitted hours. A total ban will be easier to enforce.

  9. Maplewood’s is a noise-driven ordinance for the basis of what is allowed. Not health. They hung their hat on noise. Maplewood also undercut themselves by saying they included the science in the ordinance. They did not and that was stupid legal mistake.

    Montclair’s ordinance is a health-driven ordinance as the basis for what will be allowed. They dropped noise (they call it by the scientific terminology “peace and quality of life”) after they banned gas powered units. Then they got stupid with the AQI. They also mixed up the number and colors of the AQI. Then they introduced the ozone AQI and suggested incorrect it could be combined with the PM2.5. Then the picked an arbitrary lots size, not backed up by science, and did not explain how unlimited blowers were not a health issue. Remember they dropped noise as a standard. But, even unsupported as a health issue, they excluded the Township employees and contractors from that health protection. No worries. The unions will note it and it will be reflected in new work rules no matter the ordinance.

    The one I love is that AQI Action Day total ban. The ban is logical. It is absolute. Unambiguous. The ordinance is making clear it is a very serious health hazard day. So, anybody want to know what are the Personal Protective Equipment requirement clauses the ordinance is talking about? Montclair’s? The State’s? OSHA’s? Remember, we are talking about particulate levels and I guess ozone levels for the 60hr work week…for the AQI’s below the Orange level like we had this morning. What are the PPE requirements for Yellow level particulates for a 10 hr day?

    There are several other “cmon, seriously?” passages. Some logic. Some just out of place, overdone legalese. It was so simple. Ban gas. Allow electric. Skip the AQI/health play. You ha to mess it up. Couldn’t help yourselves. Didn’t do your homework.

    As I said, go ahead. Pass it.

  10. flipside,

    I am getting a pitcher of margaritas ready for tonight. I think the real agenda is to ban blowers totally by the next Council.


    Yes, the obvious solution is to move a properly vetted ordinance to January at the earliest.

  11. Silver,
    I am not trying to guilt anyone unless facts make you feel guilty. 2 stroke engines pollute and should be banned worldwide. That is a fact. Many leaf blowers have 4 stroke engines. Yes, they pollute but not as much. Montclair is not even a speck on this planet. Try spending a day in Bangkok. The tuk tuks spew out more pollutants in one day than Montclair could generate in 10 years.
    Have you noticed the powers that be ban mining for lithium and rare earth minerals with only a couple of small exceptions in the U.S.? Why? Because if people saw the environmental damage that is done they would rightfully freak out. Let’s not forget about the toxic waste problem that is 20 years down the line. I am not anti-electric or green it is just that the technology is not there yet. There are more important things to get twisted about. How about the people of Montclair put their energy into banning 2 stroke engines worldwide. That would make a real difference.
    BTW, Blackrock just named the CEO of ARAMCO to their board. I guess the world not ready to go totally electric or they are hedging bet on Ukraine.

  12. Flip,

    “Yes, they pollute but not as much.”

    Last week temp records all over the globe were broken. EVERYTHING COUNTS.

    “Try spending a day in Bangkok.”

    More guilting. I cannot do anything about what goes on in SE Asia apart from playing my small part in 07042.

    “Does anyone really believe banning leaf blowers will make a difference to the environment?”

    “Wait to this fall when the bills roll in. Most of the citizens don’t pay attention to what’s going on until it hits their wallet.”

    “Another Montclair “woke tax” ready to hit the books.”

    You can’t seem to make up your mind whether this issue is environmental, financial or political.

    Blackrock, etc totally irrelevant to this story.

  13. Our local legislature (our Council) is now committed to this righteous path. I’m just waiting for that first AQI Red Flag day declaration from Mr Bianco and residents all over town. These residents who will step up to help ensure his declaration its followed – or they will call the real police.

    They will monitor landscape workers to ensure electric, lower-powered leaf blowers are kept in the trucks while 4-wheel, GAS POWERED mowers roam Montclair’s lawns. On one of the unhealthiest days – as declared by…wait for it. wait for it. Our Office…of…Emergency…Management.

    And in this idealized view of life, these gas-powered mowers, with some undetermined level of emissions (and noise), would be mulching leaves in fine pieces, trapped deep in a lawn – nature’s version of velcro. Or, spread on top of tree beds and gardens. Unprotected because there is no mask requirement of the Township, its operators to protect these underserving workers of mean, on these of all days. These Red Flag Days.

    We are the bestest people.

  14. Thank you Bob Russo, Peter Yacobellis, Robin Schlager and Lori Price Abrams. Ignore the whiners. This is the right thing to do.

  15. Silver,
    I know you like to parse my posts which I find amusing. I will give it a try too.
    “You can’t seem to make up your mind whether this issue is environmental, financial or political.”
    None of the above. The reason people want the ban is purely emotional. The environmental impact is like flicking a speck of dust off the deck of the Titanic. The financial burden falls on those that can least afford it but so what. Politics has nothing to do with it.
    Burying your head in the 07042 sand does nothing for the environment except let you give yourself a self-righteous pat on the back.
    What does Blackrock have to do with it. Blackrock and multi-nationals have everything to do with.

  16. flip,

    “Burying your head in the 07042 sand does nothing for the environment except let you give yourself a self-righteous pat on the back.”

    “The reason people want the ban is purely emotional.”

    You made a similar comment back in March . . . “Protesters leaving their cozy fossil fueled heated homes, wearing fossil fuel clothes, delivered by fossil fueled vehicles. Look at me I am saving the planet!”

    These are offensive comments. Your take on what motivates people on this issue is presumptuous at best. At worst, it reveals a deeper contempt. Has it ever occurred to you that there are people in this town calling for the ban for inherently good, not purely self-congratulatory reasons? What have you done in this way? Ridicule not yet scientifically proven to lower greenhouse gasses.

    Now, tell us all SPECFICALLY what Blackrock has to do with Montclair’s Town Council proposed ban.

  17. I laughed when one advocate cited Scott lawn products as sympathetic to climate change measures and another stated this ordinance was probably one of the most restrictive ordinances in the country and definitely in NJ. He just painted the target on us nationally and now Montclair will have to see how much pull it has to get State legislative protection. And because there is no direct reference to any science, we may face injunctive relief actions.

  18. I thought this would be passed on once the people calling for the ban partook in a delectable soy drink from Paper Planes. Admittedly, Paper Planes doesn’t generate as much pollution as the metal planes flying overhead. But leaf blowers bad I guess.

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