Concord residents vote at Town Meeting. Photo by Jennifer Lord Paluzzi

Yes to food trucks; no to gas-powered leaf blowers at Concord Town Meeting

By Anne O’Connor
May 2, 2023

Over 325 voters at the second and final day of Town Meeting had to stand and be counted as they weighed in on controversial articles during what Town Moderator Carmin Reiss later described as a quintessential Concord Town Meeting.

The full results from Town Meeting can be found here.

Food trucks and ice cream trucks can now be part of the scene, with a vote of 228 in favor and 100 against, albeit with a permitting process or town approval required in advance. The article required a two-thirds vote to pass.

The hour-long discussion provided moments of levity. One woman wanted to be sure the trucks could serve ice cream, not just prepackaged “thingies.” They can, according to Town Counsel.

A self-described curmudgeon objected to the potential noise of ice cream trucks cruising town. An existing bylaw would help in the regulation, Linda Miller, a Planning Board member, said.

Limited to two minutes of comments, voters spoke of the availability of food during events with street closures and other special events, and the impact that allowing food trucks could have on existing restaurants.

A citizen’s petition requiring homeowners and commercial landscapers to transition away from gas-powered leaf blowers passed 184 to 132 after 45 minutes of discussion.

Svens Weber, who submitted the article, amended it prior to Town Meeting to include compromises after speaking with others, he said. Commercial landscapers will have until March 15, 2028, rather than 2025 to make go electric. Residential users must switch by 2030, rather than 2026.

As soon as the change to the noise bylaw is in effect, the use of gas-powered leaf blowers on residential lots smaller than 1.5 acres is allowed only between March 15 and May 31 and September 15 to December 30. 

The Attorney General must approve the change, Reiss said following the meeting. That could take a couple of months or longer.

The technology for using electric equipment “is not there,” said Marianne Maurer, who presented against the article on behalf of herself and other construction companies and landscapers. Work will take longer and the cost to switch over is around $20,000.

“We are not going to make as much money and we’re going to have to pass it on to our customers,” she said.

Other voters questioned whether the noise level between gas and electric equipment was significant. Others pointed out the impacts of relying on coal-powered electricity to charge batteries that are difficult to recycle.