‘We are asking for your compliance.’ Delay in enforcement of leaf blower ban

Town Meeting approved a ban on gas-powered leaf blowers from Memorial Day to Labor Day and added penalties for scofflaws, so what should citizens do if they see someone violating the new law?

 A Marblehead resident snapped this photo of someone using a banned gas leaf blower. COURTESY PHOTO

Nothing, for now.

The penalties passed at last month’s Town Meeting need to be approved by the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office which could take a few months, according to Police Chief Dennis King. King released a joint statement about the leaf blowers with Health Agent Andrew Petty and Town Administrator Thatcher Kezer.

“We are asking for your compliance,” the statement reads. “Without the mechanism to enforce and penalize, the town is asking that people comply with the will of the Town Meeting vote without town enforcement. Our hope is that educating and informing residents and landscapers of the bylaw through this notice is a call for compliance, rather than a call to the station.”

Marblehead Police and Health Department personnel are in charge of enforcing the ban and issuing citations and fines if they witness an infraction.

The penalties are: a warning and cease operation for a first offense, followed by a $100 fine for a second offense and $200 fine for each ensuing offense. King believes the penalties will be approved by the state by the end of the summer.

Petty told the Marblehead Current he knows the new ban isn’t being 100% followed right now.
“I’ve received complaints, I’ve received several emails,” he said.

“Be assured, that when the AG approval goes through, assuming it does, both the MPD and Health Departments will respond to calls of reported violations and follow the process and issue penalties outlined in the bylaw,” according to the statement. “For now, it’s really your civic obligation to follow the will of Town Meeting. Truth be told, we hope that voluntary compliance is all the policing needed.”

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Editor Leigh Blander is an experienced TV, radio and print journalist who has written hundreds of stories for local newspapers, including the Marblehead Reporter.

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