To the editor:
Princeton’s revised noise ordinance, which regulates gas leaf blowers and other gas-powered lawn maintenance equipment, is now in effect. Because of the revised ordinance, it’s now illegal in Princeton to use gas leaf blowers from December 16 through March 14, and from May 16 to September 30. It’s now illegal in Princeton to use gas leaf blowers on Sundays and major holidays, before 8am Mon-Sat, after 8pm Mon-Fri, or after 5pm on Sat. It’s now illegal to use chainsaws, hedge trimmers, string trimmers, and pole trimmers before 1pm or after 6pm on Sundays, on major holidays, before 8am Mon-Sat, after 8pm Mon-Fri, or after 5pm on Sat.
The town is creating a new position—Code Enforcement Officer. Once the Code Enforcement Officer is hired, he or she will enforce the ordinance and will work to educate landscapers and residents about the ordinance.
What can you do while we are waiting for the Code Enforcement Officer? If you hear a very loud leaf blower, it is probably a gas leaf blower. If you hear it after December 15, on Sunday, on a major holiday, before 8am on Mon-Sat, after 8pm on Mon-Fri, or after 5pm on Sat, the leaf blowing is violating the revised noise ordinance.
You can document this violation of the ordinance. If the violators are from a landscaping company, take photos of the illegal leaf blowing (but not the workers’ faces). Take a photo of the name and telephone number of the company on the side of the truck. Also note the address of the homeowner and, if possible, the homeowner’s name. If the violator is a resident, note his or her address and, if possible, his or her name. In both cases, note the day and date and time. Save this evidence.
Once the Code Enforcement Officer is hired, you can submit this evidence to See/Click/Fix (Access Princeton). See/Click/Fix will send your evidence to the Code Enforcement Officer. Until January 24 (90 days after the ordinance was passed), for a first or second offense, the Code Enforcement Officer will give the owner of the company and the homeowner or the resident a written warning, along with education about the ordinance’s requirements. After two warnings, companies, homeowners, and residents that violate the ordinance will have to go to court, where the judge will probably fine them.
Another option, when you hear violations of the revised ordinance, is to educate the workers or the resident using the leaf blower. You can tell them that Princeton has a new law that makes what they are doing illegal. You can explain why (after December 15, Sunday, after 8pm, etc.). You can ask them to stop. And you can ask the workers to tell their boss about the new law.