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Longboat Key rejects consideration of gas leaf blower ban

Staff had begun researching regulations in other municipalities.

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  • | 3:44 p.m. March 24, 2021
The town of Longboat Key uses six gasoline-powered leaf blowers, according to Town Manager Tom Harmer.
The town of Longboat Key uses six gasoline-powered leaf blowers, according to Town Manager Tom Harmer.
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Longboat Key's Town Commissioners have decided against moving forward with restrictions on  leaf blowers.

Monday’s 4-2 vote is a reversal of a Jan. 19 consensus among commissioners, though two new commissioners had been seated in the weeks between. Town staff had begun researching the possibility of banning gasoline-powered leaf blowers.

The town also considered adding a maximum-sound limit on electric leaf blowers.

“Being I think the only person probably on this commission who spends a lot of time doing their own lawn work with mowers and chainsaws and other things, I can tell you that the technology does not yet exist that would allow a commercial contractor to have battery pack or electric equipment to be able to do work,”  At-Large Commissioner BJ Bishop said. 

Bishop, Mayor Ken Schneier, new District 2 Commissioner Penny Gold and new District 4 Commissioner Debra Williams voted in favor of ending research on the blowers and how other municipalities deal with them. 

“If we do this now, if we want to guarantee that a lot of the big companies will say, ‘No need to do business on Longboat Key because they’ve just thrown out all of our equipment,’ it’s just the wrong time,” Bishop said. “It is the wrong time to move forward on this.”

Vice Mayor Mike Haycock and District 1 Commissioner Sherry Dominick voted in favor of having town staff continue to look into the possibility of adding the restrictions.

While the Town Commission had not yet reached discussion of a formal ordinance, Planning, Zoning and Building Director Allen Parsons and his staff had put together a preliminary memo earlier this month.

Town Manager Tom Harmer said the town’s Public Works Department itself uses six gas-powered leaf blowers.

“[Public Works Director] Isaac [Brownman’s] team uses those gas blowers and has been involved in this early discussion, but [we] really haven’t gotten to the meat of some really good questions about, can they be used for eight or nine hours?” Harmer said. “How do you keep them charged? And, what do they cost? And, how does that relate?”

Citing a previous conversation with Brownman, Harmer said Public Works had considered the possibility of changing to electric-powered leaf blowers, but it didn’t make sense from a return-on-investment standpoint.

Former District 2 Commissioner George Spoll is the one who brought up the possibility of the town phasing out the gas leaf blowers.

Other Florida municipalities have ordinances that prohibit or regular the use of gas leaf blowers, including Naples, Palm Beach and Sanibel.



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