Sag Harbor Pauses Before Adopting Leaf Blower Restrictions

Village officials are considering restrictions on the use of leaf blowers. file photo

The Sag Harbor Village Board, which just a month ago seemed ready to adopt a law banning the use of gas-powered leaf blowers during the summer season, had second thoughts on Tuesday night, deciding to table the measure for further discussion at its February 26 work session.

The board hit a stumbling block after Bob Bori, the village harbormaster, who also runs a landscaping business, said a provision in the law could have unintended consequences.
As proposed, the law would ban the use of gas-powered leaf blowers anywhere in the village from May 19 to September 21. For the rest of the year, the law would allow only one gas blower to be used on lots of less than a half acre and no more than two on any single property, no matter how large.

Mr. Bori said he believed landscapers could live with many of the restrictions — but not that one.

“You send a crew of guys out to do a property that normally takes an hour, an hour and a half, with six guys,” he said. “If you put two guys on that same property, it’s going to take them the better part of the day. So the neighbor is going to be hearing the noise the whole day, as opposed to an hour and half or two hours. It’s going to cause problems.”

He found an unlikely ally in Anthony Vermandois, a resident of Union Street, who urged the board to adopt the more restrictive law last month. Referring to the proposed limit on the number of blowers that could be used at any one time, he conceded, “That’s one aspect of it that might backfire,” and added that he would rather be subjected to a large crew using blowers for a short time than a single worker using one for hours.

The leaf blower law also brought former Police Chief Tom Fabiano to the podium. He suggested time limits as a better solution than an outright ban.

“On a weekend, you don’t want to hear a leaf blower going eight hours next to you,” he said. He suggested limiting their use from 9 a.m. to 2 or 3 p.m. on Saturdays, as opposed to the current proposal, which would allow them to be used until 5 p.m.

Although board members were ready to close the public hearing and adopt the law with some tweaks, they deferred to Trustee Thomas Gardella, who requested that the discussion be continued at the board’s next work session. Mr. Gardella opposed the original measure, saying a ban on gas blowers would not solve the noise issue, and that electric ones are just as annoying.

“Before we go to vote on something, let’s have this ironed out,” he said. “Why are we doing this? Is it really going to solve the problem?”

200 Madison Street

The decision of the board to cancel a public hearing on whether a new driveway and curb cut at 200 Madison Street posed a safety concern drew the ire of Trustee James Larocca.

The house is owned by Dominic LaPierre and Laura Auerbach, both architects, who last year received approval to extensively expand their home. Part of those plans called for a new driveway on Madison Street. The property extends to Suffolk Street Extension and has access from that side as well.

Once the work was completed, though, village officials, including Police Chief Austin J. McGuire, questioned whether it is safe, because the driveway cuts into a crosswalk that was added to the intersection of Madison Street and Jermain Avenue to provide a safe crossing for schoolchildren walking between Pierson High School and Middle School and Mashashimuet Park.

When Mayor Kathleen Mulcahy announced the hearing had been canceled, Mr. Larocca voiced his objection and asked that a number of memos be read into the record.
“I think every so often a matter presents itself to us, where public safety trumps everything else,” Mr. Larocca said. “My colleagues do not agree.”

An alternative calls for moving the driveway to the south, but that would mean a mature tree would likely have to be cut down. Mr. Gardella called for the board to require that it be done. “We should do everything in our power as a Village Board to make that area as safe as possible,” he said. His motion was approved.

Separately, the board approved the hiring of attorney Anne Leahey to represent it in the curb cut matter.