EAST GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — East Grand Rapids is discussing the possibility of regulating loud, gas-powered leaf blowers.
Monday, city commission heard from the public about the possible ban. Fourteen people spoke, 13 against banning gas-powered leaf blowers.
“I spent a lot of money on a leaf blower and now the city is considering telling me I can’t use it anymore,” said Jim Benedict.
The board discussed the possibilities of a full ban, regulating hours, a buyback, or an incentive program.
Armon Robinson, 94, said he, like many others, hires landscapers who use gas-powered equipment.
“I’ve got a sizable yard. Front and backyard, and you’re going to say they have to go and quit. Then I can’t get the leaves up,” said Robinson.
Many said a ban or regulation is a slippery slope.
“Once we mandate electric blowers, what’s the next step? The lawn mower then the car and before we know it only the elites can afford an electric car and only the elites live in East Grand Rapids. You’ve created economic apartheid,” said Daniel Brown.
The Michigan Nursery and Landscape Association also spoke.
“(While) we share in the goal of reduced carbon emissions from gas powered leaf blowers, at this point the commercial-grade battery-powered equipment currently on the market has significant performance issues and cost issues. We are asking for time for the commercial market to develop efficient and cost-effective tools for our trade,” wrote Jon Geer, MNLA board representative.
Other landscapers chimed in too.
“The industry does not have an alternative to a gas-powered leaf blower. Nothing comes close to being a replacement than the electric option,” said Jamin DeLong of Tender Lawn Care.
The public supports what they called keeping their rights.
“I think letting the market lead it and letting the technology develop with younger people coming up is the right way to do it. I don’t think legislating that we all have to get rid of them is the right way to go,” said John Van Heck.
Commenters also noted protecting their wallets.
“Now is not the time for me to get a new leaf blower. I am on a limited budget,” said Benedict.
Some say battery-powered leaf blowers pose their own problems to landscaping companies and how to recycle them.
One person said we have to look at the bigger picture.
“These 2-cycle leaf blowers do emit pollution. Thirty percent of the gas and oil that goes into it just comes out carcinogenic and CO2 and it all adds up eventually,” said John Kornowski.
So far, no decision has been made by East Grand Rapids commissioners. The board is not putting in place an immediate ban and will be discussing more options, like an incentive program.