Landscapers Joe Kerble (left), Stephen Latchford (center), and Joseph Cusce Jr. (right) submit a petition to Arlington Selectmen's Office Administrator Marie Krepelka (foreground) Thursday in an effort call a special election that could overturn Arlington's new leaf blower ban. Photo by Brock Parker.
A group of Arlington landscapers and businessmen submitted about 1,300 signatures on a petition Thursday afternoon calling for a special election to overturn the town’s new leaf blower ban.
If at least 864 of the signatures are from registered Arlington voters, the petition will trigger a special election that could overturn the gas-powered leaf blower ban passed by Arlington Town Meeting last week.
Joseph Cusce Jr., owner of Black Diamond Landscapes in Arlington, along with other local business owners submitted the petition to Arlington’s Selectmen office at 2 p.m. saying the group is concerned about the effect that the ban would have on local businesses and townspeople. Cusce said he looks forward to a special election and working with people in the community to ensure they all have a chance to have their voices heard.
The new ban, which is pending the approval of the state Attorney General’s office and probably won’t take effect until next year, would forbid the use of gas-powered leaf blowers in Arlington between May 15 and Oct. 15 of each year.
Board of Selectmen office administrator Marie Krepelka said Thursday that the town must now certify the signatures on the petition, a process that could take until Tuesday or Wednesday of next week.
If at least three percent of the town’s registered voters signed the petition, which would be at least 864 signatures, then a special town election would be triggered for a vote on the leaf blower ban. If at least 20 percent of Arlington registered votes cast a ballot in the special election, and a majority of them vote to overturn the leaf blower ban, the vote by town meeting would be reversed, according to Town Counsel Juliana Rice.
Arlington Town Clerk Stephanie Lucarelli said she has worked for the town for more than 20 years and has never seen a special election called to overturn a vote by Town Meeting.
Lucarelli said that if the petition results in a special election, the town would likely need at least 20 days to allow people to register to vote, print the ballots and allow for absentee ballots to be cast.
Krepelka said selectmen will meet June 4 to decide when an election would be held. She estimated the special election would cost the town about $30,000.
Arlington Town Meeting passed the leaf blower ban by a vote of 95 in favor to 85 opposed. Supporters of the ban argued that the leaf blowers are too noisy. Town Meeting member Jeremy Marin also raised concerns about the health risk of potentially harmful dust that is kicked up by leaf blowers, including lead paint particles, mold and animal feces.