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Arlington to tackle controversial leaf blower ban again tonight

Posted by Brock Parker  October 10, 2012 01:12 PM

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Arlington will convene a Special Town Meeting tonight to reconsider the town ban on gas-powered leaf blowers and funding to eliminate fees for full-day kindergarten.

The meeting will begin at 8 p.m. Wednesday in the Town Hall Auditorium.

Two articles concerning the leaf blower ban are on the agenda, including a proposal by Town Meeting member Stephen Harrington to revoke the seasonal ban of the devices.
A second article submitted by the Board of Selectmen would call for adjustments to the local bylaw or to remove the ban.

But in a report to Town Meeting, Selectmen are asking the members not to take action on either proposal so more work can be done on create a substitute proposal for the leaf blower ban that would include regulations for the use of the devices.

Town Meeting voted 95 to 85 in May to ban gas-powered leaf blowers from May 15 to Oct. 15 of each year because of concerns about noise and potentially harmful debris being kicked into the air by the devices.

Local landscapers gathered more than 1,000 signatures to force a special election in July to reconsider the ban. Although a strong majority of Arlington residents voted to overturn the ban, the opponents to the new law fell 241 votes shy of a state requirement to reverse a vote of Town Meeting.

But the majority vote resonated with Selectmen, who voted in August to form a panel that would develop a proposal to regulate leaf blower usage rather than banning the devices outright. Selectmen said the alternate proposal could regulate everything from the time of day leaf blowers could be used to how long they could be used continuously.

In their report to Town Meeting, Selectmen said the new panel has not had enough time to develop the alternate proposal and the board asked that it be allowed to continue its work before submitting a new leaf blower proposal at the Town’s Annual Town Meeting in the spring.

Other business at the meeting Wednesday will include a vote to allocate about $1 million from the town’s free cash to help fund the elimination of full-day kindergarten fees. Arlington Schools have done away with the $3,000 fee paid by most parents for full-day kindergarten because by doing so the school department has said state funding for Arlington schools will increase for the 2013-2014 school year. The state funding increase will more than offset the added cost of full-day kindergarten, but the school department said it does need funding to pay for kindergarten this year.

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