Montclair will look and sound different when an all-out ban on gas-powered leaf blowers begins October 15. A group of landscapers have retained an attorney to stop the ordinance from taking effect.

Amner Deleon has been a commercial landscaping consultant for years. Now, he’s leading a crew for Blue Sky Green Earth, a New Jersey-based lawn care company that has always used electric tools.

The workers spend long hours behind an engine, gas or electric, depending on the weekday. Most split time between a few landscaping groups, breathing in exhaust fumes and bearing unsafe noise levels from the equipment. Part of the job, Deleon says, involves explaining to his rotating crew why the gas-engine industry is a hazardous business.

“A lot of people are not noticing it right now, but when they’re working out in the field, their hearing will also go,” Deleon said. “So when I talk about their health, it’s really about not inhaling the fumes and [protecting] their hearing.”

Blue Sky Green Earth services electric lawn care and gardening to Montclair, and is an example of one of the starkest changes residents say a ban on gas-powered leaf blowers can yield.

The recently approved year-round legislation comes two years after the township placed a seasonal restriction on its use. The all-out ban takes effect next month and, according to local activists, attempts to harness environmental sustainability and address public health, too – especially workers’ health.

The Montclair Office of Environmental Affairs and Sustainable Montclair invited residents and landscaper to experience the future of outdoor power at their electric leaf blower and equipment demonstration, held at Tuers Park on Saturday, August 26. (MONTCLAIR TOWNSHIP)

“It is a victory for worker and public health, as well as for the natural environment and local quality of life,” Peter Holm, Montclair resident and spokesperson for Quiet Montclair, wrote to Montclair Local. “Both the extreme noise and the toxic emissions produced by gas leaf blowers cause serious harm to the health and well-being of the people who use them and who are in their vicinity, whether outdoors or indoors.”

Gas-powered leaf blowers radiate a low frequency, which penetrates through walls, windows and ear plugs. There is often little protection to keep a worker from losing hearing or inhaling the pollution that gas-powered blowers produce, according to Lois Kraus, co-founder of statewide network Advocates for Transforming Landscaping in New Jersey and a Rutgers environmental steward.

“Landscaper owners operate on very thin margins, and for the smaller outfits, health benefits are prohibitively unaffordable to offer their crews,” Kraus said.

“That these, mostly men, are exposed to some many adverse health consequences to provide a leaf-swept lawn is just plain wrong.”

The move to zero-emission leaf blowers in Montclair puts both residents and landscapers in a transition period together. Contracts for the fall season are being re-negotiated, and some homeowners are looking into different lawn care practices.

The demand for eco-conscious decision-making is ongoing in New Jersey. The state is undergoing a widespread sustainability initiative, focused on the green economy, developing an energy master plan and an electric vehicle “revolution” in light of the climate crisis.

A bill in the state Legislature to prohibit the sale and use of gas-powered leaf blowers was introduced in 2021, but had not advanced.

Montclair is the second municipality in New Jersey to issue a total ban. California, Vermont, and Washington, D.C. also have bans or restrictions in place.

A Change For Landscapers

The electric landscaping sector is growing and locally, some landscaping companies are either ahead of the trend or just getting around to it. Steve Weiss owns a battery-operated equipment store, EcoQuip, out of Rockland County in West Nyack, New York. Weiss says he made the transition to electric after more residents requested it.

“I find it to be a lot easier on my workforce, and with the gas prices and the noise, and some of the communities [Hopewell and Ridgewood] I work in, that was just the direction that I decided to go in,” Weiss said. 

Some Montclair landscapers have voiced opposition to the ordinance. 

Daria Paxton, owner of Gaia Gardens, believes landscaping in Montclair will be more expensive while using electric blowers and that the work will take longer.

“I already work on properties where we don’t use blowers and I always encourage people to compost. But it takes a lot of time and space to do it properly,” said Paxton, who has been using commercial grade electric tools for over six years. She says that gas engines are “essential for fall clean ups.”

A group of landscapers are working to stop the ban and have retained attorney Roosevelt Nesmith. Nesmith told Montclair Local “the plan is to file suit to stop the ordinance going into effect.”

A sign posted on Park Street.

Another concern raised by those opposed to the ban is the cost of converting to electric equipment. At the August Township Council meeting, officials discussed the possibility of a $10,000 buyback program to help residents who use gas-powered leaf blowers to make the transition.

Shift in Land Care Philosophy

Inhaling fumes can lead to adverse health impacts on residents, too. With constant exposure, exhaust pollution can seep into the bloodstream and can increase the risk of respiratory infections, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and asthma, according to a 2021 study. When the ordinance goes into effect, many residents, like Anna Grossman, plan on keeping their windows open.

“We’re trying to change the whole system. It’s not just the landscapers’ problem,” Kraus said. “Everybody’s got to educate themselves, and then all work together for a solution.”

From mulching to raking leaves to harvesting garden beds, Montclair could see an overall shift to a more eco-conscious approach to lawn care. Holm sees the new ban as an opportunity for residents to explore those options, posing “a shift in land care philosophy.”

“Philosophically, and for me personally, the prospect of more healthful living outweighs the perceived beauty of manicured lawns,” said Ann Lippel, president of Montclair Gateway to Aging in Place.

“Removing every last fallen leaf from a property is inefficient and unnecessary,” Holm wrote in an email. “Instead, we should see greater use of mulch-mowing leaves to return nutrients to the soil, leaving some leaves in garden beds and under trees to protect the soil and support beneficial wildlife, composting leaves to produce natural fertilizer, and other sustainable practices.”

To help streamline this transition period, Sustainable Montclair is in the process of finding ways to assist populations that may have trouble finding services for leaf collection and removal.

The group also plans to take on other sustainability concerns in Montclair that affect both the environment and residents, like reducing pesticide use and preserving trees.

“The spirit of our cooperative is that anybody can come and say, ‘This is really upsetting me, and this environmental issue is a problem for me and I want to do something about it,’” Grossman, a member of Sustainable Montclair, said.

17 replies on “Beyond Quiet: Impact of Gas-Powered Leaf Blower Ban in Montclair”

  1. “Gas-powered leaf blowers radiate a low frequency, which penetrates through walls, windows and ear plugs.

    I absolutely love this morsel. It is great in its dumbness. And this is an organization that had 3 years to wordsmith the perfect ordinance and they managed to open like the New York Football Giants. Or maybe the Bad News Bears.

    The ban hasn’t gone into effect and the Council has to amend this ordinance. And now it is all about protecting worker health! Amazing! Look at the PPE clauses…and how absolutely worthless they are protecting the workers.

    This is an embarrassment for Quiet Montclair.

  2. Frank,
    Insults aside, Quiet Montclair wrote neither this article nor the ordinance recently passed by the Township Council.
    Substantively, GLBs do produce an unusually strong low-frequency (LF) component in their sound profile, and LF sound does travel farther and more easily through walls and other barriers than other sound. These are not contested facts in the scientific community. You can find relevant peer-reviewed publications on our Research page (
    The health harms caused to workers and the broader public by GLBs are also well-established and have not been contested in any of the many, many statements made on this subject at Township Council meetings over the past four years. The new ordinance aims to protect workers and the public by stopping the use of the machines causing these harms.

  3. But, you agree with the case made. I get the air pollution case. We all get that. Where you allowed your advocacy high ground to be co-opted is the issue of noise. And where the landscapers will have opportunity.

    You don’t define noise pollution. You don’t define health thresholds. Noise is just bad and too much noise is to be prohibited. Is that the peer-review standard you are using. I really don’t get how science has studied this frontwards and backwards and, yet, wait for it, we have no quantifiable measure. Has science given up on quantification? Not the science I grew up with. Seriously, what is the threshold for a worker and what PPE negates the harm of anything over that? Ear plugs? Really? Ear plugs? Sorry, you are just another of those ‘the Ends justifies the Means”. Just say you want neighborhood peace and quiet and whatever works to get it. I’m fine with that. Just be consistent.

  4. Frank,
    We encourage you and others to read our Research page (, which addresses all of these issues. We have been consistent over the course of four years in highlighting how GLBs cause significant and particular harm to worker and public health, natural ecologies, and quality of life, both through extreme noise and toxic emissions. The purpose of eliminating their use is to eliminate that source of harm.

  5. Less pollution, less noise, eco-friendly alternatives… let’s get beyond the wordsmith-ing already. This is the right thing to do. We’ll survive the adjustment, I promise…..

  6. Quiet,

    The decibel level of the “higher pitched” electric residential blowers is 80 dB on the low setting. Want to guess what the dB is on hi or commercial versions?

    My consistent point is this ordinance does nothing for a worker who is exposed for 10 hrs/day to commercial versions, riding mowers and push mowers running concurrently. You got rid of 2-stroke motors. Whoopee! You offend the rest of us when you try to take your cause justification on the back of future hearing impaired workers…for no benefit for you. The ordinance should have been specific about worker protections. It wasn’t. It wasn’t for a reason. And that is why the Township will get sued.

  7. And read the intro language, the ordinance language, and the lack of penalties to the employers if their workers don’t wear whatever is the appropriate PPE. Shameful. Jut say it is for the residents.

  8. Frank,

    Did you also read the part where electric leafblower is defined by itself and also defined under a gas leafblower if plugged into a generator. How ridiculous? Is it an environmental issue or noise people. Battery ones still blow debris into the air. I saw that was a concern at a meeting. Also landscapers can run a gas powered generator all day while plugging in to charge the batteries. This ordinance is ridiculous. Just allow the landscapers to use 4 stroke and it’s a win win for both parties. Oh and what about the start times. If the battery ones are quieter, why not eliminate the times? The landscapers can technically start cutting grass at 7am but have to wait to use an electric leafblower! SMH

  9. There is room for a compromise in transitioning. Do it. Don’t do it.
    But, either way, it still leaves the workers unprotected. I continue to call BS on those who employ this justification.

    To write an ordinance where PPE is undefined, unenforceable and without penalties is one thing. To have the nerve to say a key objective of the ordinance is to worker safety is just delusional. That the public can’t process this deficiency is par for the course these days.

  10. I afraid this is just the start. The Montclair “Rebels Without a Cause” are now empowered so I am sure more Montclair saves the world initiatives are in the works.

  11. The operation of gas-powered leaf blowers permitted by residents of Cedar Grove. It’s just a short ride up and over E. Bradford. Feel free!

  12. Silver, As usual you are open minded, tolerant, and welcoming to opinions that differ from yours. Perhaps you could start a Montclair welcome wagon. You motto could be “think like me or move somewhere else.”

  13. Jonathan Moon nailed the subject in the Montclairvoyant thread.

    Couple of depressing facts:

    This is a new Chapter 219. What happened to Chapter 217-6? Y’know, the one that also had to be revised and reintroduced in 2021.

    But, chapter organization aside & more importantly (pay attention Quiet Montclair, et al) what happened to the language in 217-6, subsection E & F? How did the purpose of the stricter standards get edited out? This is what I am talking about.

    The Righteous Residents helped themselves and just did the workers a serious wrong. You watered down existing worker protections…and property owner accountability.

    What were you thinking?

    Really would like to understand. Maybe post on some web page?

    The fact you are proud of this ordinance just boggles the mind.

  14. Flip, not surprisingly, you even got that wrong. Not about my intolerance to differing opinion, etc. I was specifically reacting to your petty habit of not being able to let go of issue. In this instance, one made over a month ago. Your comment offers nothing informative or constructive. It is pure snipe.

  15. Whichever side one lands on on the leaf blower issue, Jon Moon and Frank are right that this piece of legislation was poorly written and interim attorney Burr was stuttering in embarrassing way trying to explain yet another snafu. “(…) the changes are made to make it [our ordinance] compliant with the State statute.” Aha, okay. Mr. Burr: why wasn’t it compliant the first time around? How isn’t this guy sinking through his chair as he is publicly making a fool of himself time after time?

  16. Silver, Snipe? Takes one to know one. I understand your point of view. The ban is a positive for you because it clearly doesn’t effect you in a negative way. Many homeowners, landscape company owners, and landscape workers will be negativity impacted but who cares? I would never tell anyone to move because they disagreed with me but you did. I guess that is your idea of being informative. Yuck!

  17. flip, as much as you claim to do so, you don’t understand my point of view. How could you with such a narrow perspective? I have my reasons for supporting the ban. For you to say I did so because it doesn’t effect me in a negative way is
    presumptuous at best, arrogant at worst. Move on and get over it!

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