To the Editor:
You may have noticed that since mid-May, Princeton has been a lot quieter than usual. Because of a new Princeton ordinance, the extremely noisy and very polluting gas-powered leaf blowers are not allowed during the summer, from May 16 through September 30, or during the winter, from December 16 through March 14. They are still allowed in the fall, from October 1 through December 15, and in the spring, from March 15 to May 15.)
Note that gas lawnmowers are not subject to the summer and winter bans on gas leaf blowers.
The new ordinance restricts the days and hours when gas leaf blowers can be used:
Not at all on Sundays or on Thanksgiving Day. Not before 8 a. or after 8 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, and not before 8 a.m. or after 5 p.m. on Saturdays.
Similarly, the ordinance restricts the days and hours when gas-powered snow blowers, portable generators, chain saws, hedge trimmers, string trimmers, and pole trimmers can be used:
Not at all on Sundays, New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, or Christmas. Not before 8 a.m. or after 8 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, and not before 8 a.m. or after 5 p.m. on Saturdays.
There are good alternatives to gas-powered lawn maintenance equipment. Electric and battery-powered lawnmowers and lawn maintenance equipment are not subject to the summer and winter bans. They are much less noisy than gas-powered equipment, and they do not pollute at all. They have been improved in recent years so that they can handle most lawn maintenance jobs.
Gas lawnmowers and electric lawnmowers and other electric lawn maintenance equipment have restricted hours. They cannot be used before 8 a.m. or after 8 p.m. on Mondays through Fridays and cannot be used before 8 a.m. or after 5 p.m. on Saturdays. They can also be used on Sundays, from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Both homeowners and professional lawn maintenance crews must abide by the new ordinance. During bona fide emergencies, the restrictions are lifted.
What should you do if you hear or observe a leaf blower or other lawn maintenance equipment being used when the ordinance does not allow it? You can help implement the ordinance by reporting your observation to Access Princeton. If you can, video or photograph the people using the equipment (but not their faces). Video or photograph the house number of the house and the name and phone number of the lawn maintenance company on its truck. Note the date and time and the street name. Access Princeton will forward your report to our new community compliance officer, who will contact the homeowner and lawn maintenance company owner. Much of her work involves education and warnings, but a repeat offender will have to appear in court and possibly pay a fine.