Wednesday, April 12, 2017

LANDSCAPERS PLAN TO FILE INJUNCTION, LAWSUIT AGAINST LEAF BLOWER BAN

New Jersey's leading landscaper organization is seeking to block the new leaf blower ban approved last week by the Township Committee, with plans to file an injunction against the new ordinance, and later a lawsuit.

The Township Committee last week voted, 5-0, on final approval of the ban, which extends last summer's restriction on commercial entities using gasoline-powered leaf blowers. The new regulation bars them from May 15 to September 30, while adding limits on hours of use year-round.

See the background HERE.

It does not affect residents or the use of electric leaf blowers.

During the review and public hearing process many landscapers and other commercial firms that use the blowers spoke out against the ban, claiming it affects their business and limits their working options.

Gail Woolcott, director of operations for the New Jersey Landscape Contractors Association (NJLCA), a 550-member advocacy group for the firms, said attorneys are planning to file an injunction to block the ban before the May 15 date that it would take effect.

"We've sent our attorney to do that, he has filled out all the paperwork," she said. "We're looking to get it filed so that it can go through before the ordinance is installed on May 15."

She said the injunction would be a prelude to a lawsuit. 

"We have seen attempted bans in Montclair and in Glen Rock," she added. "We worked with those townships to make it more reasonable. They have gone through with restricted hours, but we haven't seen an all-out ban." Woolcott described the ban as "discrimination and trying to make laws where there are laws for emissions and safety equipment." 

"We have been and we still are willing to work with the Township on something that is reasonable," she said, noting that they might agree to a slower roll out that would phase in the restriction and give firms time to replace equipment. "If that is what is needed, guys would have time to do it."

Mayor Vic Deluca and Township Committee member Nancy Adams, who proposed the ban, declined to comment, citing the pending legal action.

David Mairo, attorney for the NJLCA, said the ban is unfair because it only targets commercial entities: "If it were enforced it would create irreparable harm to the landscapers."

He later added, "the ordinance doesn't achieve its stated goal because it allows residents to use gas-powered leaf blowers. It does not affect the Township (workers) and the Maplewood Country Club."

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