Leaf Blowers – New Local Law At its June 19, 2018 meeting, the Town Board adopted a local law on the use of leaf blowers. The Board worked for months with the Leaf Blowers Task Force and staff and relied heavily on feedback from members of the community, especially those who considered the too stringent some ideas being reviewed. The Board adopted hours and days of use which are uniform throughout the Town. The Board rejected certain more stringent provisions, such as complete bans, licensing of landscapers, requirement to obtain a permit, shorter leaf season. There are two special rules for Hamlet Zones (see below), which are primarily smaller lots and based on zoning districts, otherwise Hamlet Zones are treated the same as the rest of the Town. The following is a quick summary table:
|EFFECTIVE AUGUST 15, 2018:|
|Hours Permitted for Leaf Season (September 16 through May 14)||Hours Permitted Off Season (May 15 through September 15)|
|Weekdays 8:00 AM through 6:00 PM||Weekdays, 9:00 AM through 5:00 PM|
|Saturdays and Holidays: 10:00 AM through 4:00 PM (no Sundays)||Saturdays and Holidays: 10:00 AM through 4:00 PM (no Sundays)|
|SPECIAL RULES FOR HAMLET ZONES|
|Year round: one leaf blower at a time and no push-behind blowers|
|Off -season: no gas powered blowers during off season|
Reusable Bags – New Local Law Following a public hearing, the Town Board at its June 5, 2018 meeting adopted a local law patterned after the law in Suffolk County and accompanying resolutions:
- Effective April 1, 2019, stores with more than 5,000 square feet of ground floor retail space are required to charge a fee of 10c for either a single-use plastic bag or paper grocery bag for customers who arrive at the check-out counter without a reusable bag. This would cover ShopRite, Key Foods, DeCiccos, Pier I, CVS and Kohl’s. Small stores will not be covered, as the Reusable Bag Task Force determined that such stores distribute few single-use bags which are the subject of the law.
- Between now and the April 1, 2019 effective date, the Town will widely publicize and promote the use of reusable bags in partnership with the stores, Bedford 2020, other community organizations and schools.
- ShopRite has pledged to distribute during the ramp up period up to 6,200 reusable bags to its customers without any charge and DeCicco’s and Key Foods have pledged to distribute reusable bags for 25c each (free to a customer spending $50 or more) for the next six months.
- The Town Board has converted the Reusable Bag Task Force as a permanent, standing committee advisory to the Town Board which will be instrumental in implementing the new law. It also will monitor the progress of the program, set a baseline and benchmarks and advise the Town Board on recommended revisions in the law, including whether to consider a ban on single-use plastic bags if the program has not succeeded. Here is the new local law and the resolution which empanels the RBTF as a permanent committee.
The certified Resolution, Law and SEQRA forms
Reusable Bags Task Force
The Town Board has a keen interest in reducing the waste from single-use plastic bags and paper bags which are distributed in huge quantities, especially at grocery stores. The Board long has held the view that it is preferable that the County take action rather than each of the 45 Westchester County municipalities develop its own local laws resulting in a potentially confusing and conflicting array of regulation creating difficulty for retailers and shoppers alike. On May 19, 2015 the Town Board adopted a resolution in support of a proposal of Westchester County Legislators Catherine Parker and Peter Harckham to regulate single use plastic bags and polystyrene loose fill packaging (a/k/a Styrofoam). The Board of Legislators of Westchester County took no action on the measure or any other measure.
Given the inaction at the County level, the Conservation Board began work to develop a proposal to ban single-use plastic bags and Rosemary Lee, among others on the Board, visited retailers in each of the hamlets to discuss the proposal. The Town Board earlier this year appointed a Reusable Bag Task Force comprised of all members of the Town Board, serving as ex-officio members, and Allison Chernow, Filippine Hoogland (who serves as chair), Midge Iorio and Rosemary Lee and Associate Members (non-residents), Jay Peltz, John Rhodes and Steve Wolk.
There are two basic laws being considered:
- An outright ban on single-use plastic bag (with certain exceptions) with a fee for a bag required to be charged to a customer who comes to the check-out counter without a reusable bag. A number of Westchester County municipalities, including New Castle, have a single-use plastic bag law in place.
- No ban, but the requirement that the retailer charge a fee for a bag for the customer who comes to the check-out counter without a reusable bag (the fee would be charged for either a plastic bag or a paper bag with the customer given the choice). Here, too, certain retailers and food establishments would be exempted. Suffolk County adopted a law which went into effect on January 1 which takes the no ban/fee approach with a 5c minimum fee.
Retailers seek a “level playing field” among municipalities, especially those adjacent to one another. On February 26 Supervisor Chris Burdick hosted a meeting for Westchester Mayors and Supervisors interested in developing strategies and local laws to reduce waste from single use plastic bags and paper bags. Fifteen of the 45 Westchester municipalities attended. The purpose of the multi-municipality meeting and our work after it is to try to develop a common strategy leading to a uniform or similar local law. The author of the Suffolk County law, County Legislator Dr. William Spencer, joined by telephone to explain the development of his proposal (which had started as a ban on single-use plastic bags). All in attendance emphasized the need to change how we all go about our shopping and simply get into the habit of taking reusable bags with us when we go shopping. A robust education campaign with the participation of community organizations, schools and retail community, all agreed, should precede the imposition of any local law. All but one municipality expressed interest in adopting a local law sometime in 2018.
In another meeting to move ahead with this initiative, Supervisor Burdick hosted a meeting on April 11 a meeting with retailers at the Bedford Hills Train Station to hear their comments and concerns regarding a local law to regulate single-use plastic bags and/or paper grocery bags provided shoppers at store check-out counters. The meeting was very productive and helpful. We thank our merchants for taking the time from their busy schedules to come to the meeting and let us know their views.
Click here for the Power Point Presentation. As earlier reported, together with Filippine de Haan, who chairs the Reusable Bag Task Force, I hosted The Town of Bedford is in the information gathering phase and will continue to work with other municipalities.
Leaf Blowers Task Force
Over seven years ago, several Bedford residents, most of whom were Cornell Master Gardeners, launched Leave Leaves Alone, an initiative to encourage residents to voluntarily discontinue the use of leaf blowers and replace the practice with mulching leaves. While many residents “signed on”, the use of leaf blowers appears to have increased. Leave Leaves Alone co-founder Fiona Mitchell and other residents approached the Town Board last year asking that the Board consider adopting a local law regulating leaf blower use due to their noise, emissions and other adverse environmental impacts (click here). A large number of Westchester County municipalities have adopted local laws or ordinances regulating leaf blowers with restrictions ranging from seasonal bans outside of fall leaf season to restrictions on the times of day during which leaf blowers may be used. Westchester Leaf Blower Laws
The Town Board, on December 19, 2017, appointed a Leaf Blowers Task Force (LBTF) comprised of all members of the Town Board, serving as ex-officio members, and Ms. Mitchell, John Fry, Peter Kuniholm, Jeanne Markel, Helene Kopal, Teresa Donkin. Betsy Weir, and Midge Iorio, with Ms. Mitchell and Ms. Donkin serving as Co-Chairs of the LBTF. The role of the LBTF is to help frame and formulate a local law, though, of course, it is the Town Board’s ultimate responsibility as to the form it takes.
Earlier this year, the Town hosted a public information session at which over 100 residents and landscapers attended. The LBTF also met with landscapers to hear their concerns. The LBTF spent countless hours considering and evaluating the scores of comments received, reviewing laws in other municipalities and gathering scientific information regarding the effects of leaf blower use on air quality, health and the environment.
Following this detailed and thorough work, the LBTF presented the Town Board with its report and proposal on April 13. The proposal is for a summer ban on gas leaf blowers on those streets that receive leaf pick up in the fall, as well as during the winter months excepting spring and fall clean up. It also includes proposed restrictions pertaining to hours of use, noise and types of blowers. The Town Board, Task Force Co-Chairs Fiona Mitchell and Teresa Donkin, task force member Helene Kopal, Planning Director Jeff Osterman, Police Chief Melvin Padilla and Building Inspector Alberto Ciraco reviewed and discussed the proposal at a work session on April 17.
Over the coming weeks, the Town Board will work on a response to the LBTF’s proposal. The Town Board is committed to producing a local law before summer.
The Town Board is keenly interested in hearing your comments and asks that you provide them by e-mail, click here. The Board will provide further opportunities for public comment at meetings. All meetings of the Board, including work sessions, are open to the public.
Westchester County law requires that landscaping contractors be registered with the County and that leaf blowers meet County emissions regulations. For further information please see https://consumer.westchestergov.com/consumer-laws/leaf-blowers.
For more information: Click here for the FAQs