Sag Harbor Village Considers Limits on Leaf Blowers

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

The Sag Harbor Village Board has proposed a law that will limit the use of leaf blowers to specific hours. The law would also create a registry for commercial landscape companies that want to work in Sag Harbor, in an effort to inform businesses about the village’s code and aid in enforcement.

The law will be up for public hearing at the board’s June 9 session and was introduced during its Tuesday night meeting, held via Zoom videoconference and open to the public.

“I think we can bring some order to something that is somewhat chaotic right now,” said board member Aidan Corish.

If approved, leaf blower use in the village could only take place between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, with leaf blower use by professionals banned on weekends and holidays. Private homeowners will still be able to use leaf blowers during weekends and holidays, but only between the hours of 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Under the proposed law, landscapers would also be prohibited from advertising for or providing serves within the village unless registered with the village for a fee of $250. During the registration process, the village hopes to inform companies about its code regarding hours, noise and leaf blower use, ensure companies have New York State Department of Environmental Conservation certification if they are using regulated pesticides or chemicals and show proof of worker’s compensation insurance.

Once approved, the village will issue the registration tags and vehicle stickers for company vehicles at a cost of $25 each.

“At least we have a way of identifying who it is and holding them accountable,” said board member Bob Plumb.

“I would like to know after 2 p.m. on a Saturday, I don’t have to hear a leaf blower … I think it will be a quality of life issue and I think it will be appreciated.”

On June 9, the village will host a second public hearing on a local law that if adopted would remove the requirement for a public hearing before the village’s Harbor Committee for property owners looking to install a nitrogen-reducing septic system — provided no other renovations or developments planned for the property.

“The Harbor Committee has requested the formal public hearing process be waived under those circumstances since they want to encourage people to make that change, espcieally if it is not in conjunction with making anything larger on a property,” explained Village Attorney Denise Schoen.

The village is also looking into how it can extend building permits that were already issued prior to the state’s “Pause” order that largely ended non-essential construction.

“I think the idea is we would put it together for as long as construction has been on ‘Pause’ — we would give them that extension or maybe even a little more leeway,” Sag Harbor Mayor Kathleen Mulcahy said.

In other village news, on Tuesday, the board toured Long Wharf — a facility in the middle of being renovated to include a pedestrian walkway among many other improvements.

“It’s in amazing shape,” said Ms. Mulcahy. “The transient docks are pretty much open and ready to go and will be open for Memorial Day even if the Wharf is not.”

Ms. Mulcahy said the village hopes to Long Wharf open for parking right after the holiday weekend.

As several ad-hoc task forces continue to meet to explore how Sag Harbor Village — and in particular its parks and its downtown — can safely reopen as state government allows, on Tuesday, board member James Larocca expressed concern that the committee discussing the reopening of the business district was not diverse enough.

“I sat through a meeting the other day and given the scope of the work being taken on there, we have a very poor representation of this community on this task force,” he said. “There is no representation east of Hampton Street, I don’t see a fireman, I don’t see an ambulance driver, I don’t see working Sag Harbor on that committee.”

Mr. Larocca said his concerns were “sharpened” by the idea that there was consensus around the idea of closing Main Street, Sag Harbor to traffic or parking — a concept initially discussed by task force members, who have also talked about limiting parking as another alternative and a means of allowing for social distancing when the state allows businesses to reopen.

“We need a broader committee if it is going to be dealing with this scope,” Mr. Larocca said, calling on professional planners or engineers to be engaged in the conversation.

Ms. Mulcahy noted that the task force Mr. Larocca was addressing was very particular to opening Main Street businesses and that many ideas are being considered.

“I think we have a long way to go,” she said.

“We are not talking about permanent changes,” added Mr. Corish. “We are talking aabout responding to a unique and immediate need.”

Mr. Corish and Mr. Plumb — charged with organizing and bringing together that task force — both noted the concepts being discussed were just that, concepts, and that any formal suggestions would come publicly before the village board, the body that ultimately would make the decision.

“None of this would be permanent or considered without the board’s consent,” said Mr. Plumb. “From my perspective, the health of the community is the highest priority.”

“We have not condoned any ideas,” he added.

“It may not be a perfect cross-section and I would be fine with that,” added Mr. Plumb. “The problem is we are trying to do something in a matter of weeks while we double the number of people here and it gets unwieldly.”

“We have to boil all of this down into something we can live with,” he said. “I, personally, am trying to go with the minimum when it comes to [reducing] parking.”

The village board agreed it would convene a special work session on Friday, May 15 at 2 p.m. to continue conversations about the task force and the eventual reopening of Sag Harbor’s Main Street.