Arlington selectmen have set a tentative date for a special election this summer that could overturn the town’s controversial leaf blower ban.
Monday night the board scheduled the election for July 19, but at the request of local landscapers the town is exploring whether the election could be pushed back until September, said Selectmen Chairman Kevin Greeley this morning.
“There is an outside chance that date may be changed,” Greeley said.
Last month, landscapers and other Arlington residents submitted more than 1,000 signatures on a petition calling for the special election, which will ask voters whether they support the vote by Town Meeting in May that bans the use of gas powered leaf blowers from May 15 through Oct. 15 each year.
Arlington officials certified the petition signatures last week, and under state law selectmen had five days to schedule a special election. Under state law, the town must schedule an election “forthwith,” but Greeley said the town is trying to determine how quickly the election must be held. He said the town needs at least a couple of weeks to print ballots for the special election, so the board opted for a July election.
Opponents of the leaf blower ban face a tall order to overturn the local bylaw amendment in the special election. Under state law, polls will only be open from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. for the special election. In that 6-hour span, if at least 20 percent of Arlington voters cast a ballot to repeal the ban, and a majority of all of the votes are to overturn the new law, then the Town Meeting vote would be reversed.
Greeley said he’s heard overwhelming opposition to the leaf blower ban, and he believes the town voters should have the opportunity to have their voices heard.
Landscapers have requested the election be put off until September after most people are home from summer vacations. But Greeley said even if the town can delay the election until the fall, there will be a state primary on Sept. 6 followed by a state election on Nov. 6.