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City of Decatur will discuss leaf blowers during noise ordinance update

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City of Decatur will discuss leaf blowers during noise ordinance update

Decatur City Hall.

Decatur, GA  — At the Decatur City Commission meeting on Monday, City Manager Andrea Arnold announced that city staff will be meeting this week to kick off a project looking at potential updates the city’s noise ordinance, which will include discussing leaf blowers.

“It’s more than just the leaf blowers, but we do understand the consternation caused by leaf blowers and other lawn equipment. The team will start meeting, and they’re going to pull together a steering committee,” Arnold said.

City staff and the steering committee will look at other updates that could include looking at other lawn equipment, addressing noise from large generators and looking at outdoor music, among other things. She added that the process will be similar to what the city did regarding rental scooters.

The city staff and steering committee with engage the community and ultimately come back to the City Commission with updates to the noise ordinance.

The announcement came after resident Jeanine Payer asked the City Commission to consider addressing the issue — the nuisance that is leaf blowers — and ban gas-powered leaf blowers.

“The conversation about leaf blowers has really changed since the beginning of the pandemic. Everyone is aware of the high frequency and high decibels that have unrelentingly invaded our public and private spaces,” Payer said. “Over 300 municipalities across America have already banned or restricted the use of two-stroke lawn maintenance equipment because of the extremely high non-regulated emissions as well as noise pollution.”

She used the city of Mountain Brook, Alabama, as an example. In June, the city achieved Green Zone certification for four public areas after replacing much of the city’s gas-powered maintenance equipment with battery-operated, electric or manual tools, according to AL.com.

Mountain Brook has eliminated two-stroke equipment from being used for routine maintenance, although there are some seasonal exceptions for gas-powered leaf blowers during peak leaf season.

“I think that we don’t want to let Alabama get ahead of us on this one, so I think we should look to our own backyard and start there,” Payer said. “I feel strongly that we need to switch to electric leaf blowers on the public school campuses and the parks.”

She would also like to see small landscapers supported with rebates and plans to transition to electric equipment.

“There’s a huge demand and I feel like they’d be the most popular landscapers on the block,” Payer said.

She added that banning gas-powered leaf blowers would be a win-win for everyone.

“[For] the health of the workers who are exposed to this for eight to nine hours, this toxic exhaust. I think it’s a win for the residents who deserve to have peace and quiet in their homes,” Payer said. “I think it helps the property values too, and I think that it’s a win for our children who want to play outside.”

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