The move to register landscapers in Westfield comes amid a push to place limits on gas-powered leaf blowers.
WESTFIELD, NJ — Landscapers operating in Westfield may soon have to register and pay a fee if they want to operate legally within the municipality.
A public hearing is anticipated Tuesday for a local regulation that establishes a registration process and sets an annual fee for any landscaper or tree service operating in Westfield.
“It allows us to know whose working in town but also allows the town to provide them with information about the town’s rules or regulations that they need to follow,” said Town Administrator Jim Gildea when the council introduced the measure March 23.
Mayor Shelley Brindle said that part of the impetus for the regulation is to help the town to improve storm debris pickup — something that raised local concern following a tropical storm in 2020.
“This was the outcome of trying to better enable us to improve storm debris pickup in the future,” Brindle said.
People who are providing landscaping services “on a casual or part-time basis” do not have to register as long as they live in Westfield and do not use a commercial registered vehicle to transport their equipment.
The local law, if approved, would require landscapers pay an annual fee of $50, the proposed regulation states. However, that fee would be waived for any landscaper who has already registered for permission to enter the Conservation Center.
Violations of the regulation would be punishable by a fine of up to $2,000, and landscapers could also have their permits revoked in the case of a violation.
While the council did not discuss leaf blowers, the measure comes amid movement in Westfield to more strictly regulate the use of gas-powered leaf blowers.
Last month, the Westfield Board of Health heard from Phil Round, a member of the Westfield Green Team, who presented a recent report detailing the negative impacts of gas-powered leaf blowers.
“We did propose to the town that they put in some restrictions, particularly on the use of leaf blowers in the … summer season when leaf blowers are really not needed,” Round said.
He said that May through September there is no reason to be using any leaf blowers, but the Green Team decided that “gas leaf blowers were more annoying and damaging to the environment than electric leaf blowers and were noisier.”
Round said that many communities have implemented restrictions on the use of gas leaf blowers and that such devices can be harmful, particularly for children and people with asthma.
The discussion of leaf blowers in Westfield comes as the Summit City Council is set to decide this week on a leaf blower ban that would prohibit the use of the devices June through August. It also follows a measure Montclair’s local government enacted earlier this year concerning time limits on gas powered leaf blowers and a restriction in Maplewood for gas powered leaf blowers.
The report Round cited is from the nonprofit Quiet Communities, which focuses on mitigating the impacts of noise pollution. It discusses an increased risk of complications and death from COVID-19 due to “the fine particulate matter” generated by gas powered leaf blowers.
Citing research from the Harvard School of Public Health, the report also says noise from gas-powered leaf blowers may cause issues with sleep, concentration and other health problems.
“The penetrating noise from two-stroke GLBs [gas leaf blowers] not only poses threats to hearing but also causes stress-mediated disorders such as heart disease, psychological disturbances and metabolic abnormalities, some of which raise the risk of complications from COVID-19,” the report says.
Click here to view the proposed regulation.
Email Matt Kadosh at email@example.com | Twitter: @MattKadosh
Editor's Note: This story was updated on April 9 to clarify a reference to yard waste pickup.
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