Autumn leaves Photo by Jennifer Lord Paluzzi

Attorney General approves Concord’s phase out of leaf blowers

By Betsy Levinson
August 17, 2023

Attorney General Andrea Campbell has notified the town that Article 37, which phases out the use of gas-powered hand-held leaf blowers by the end of the decade, has been approved. The new Noise Bylaw amendment went into effect August 10. 

As presented and passed at Town Meeting, the leaf blowers in question can still be used only from March 15 to May 31 and again from September 15 to December 30 on residential lots of less than 1.5 acres.

The ban starts as of March 2028 for commercial landscapers and March 2030 for residents.

The tool is defined as “any fully portable blower device designed for landscaping with a handheld nozzle.”

“We approve Article 37 because we determine that the bylaw amendments do not conflict with the Constitution or laws of the Commonwealth,” the letter to Town Clerk Kari Mai Taari stated.

But the office added, “Our decision in no way implies an agreement or disagreement with the policy views that may have led to the passage of the bylaw amendments.” 

When the article was proposed, there was significant pushback by landscapers who called the bylaw too restrictive and said it would adversely impact their ability to earn a living. Proponents cited environmental and health reasons for the ban, including “less noise, no toxic fumes and no greenhouse gasses.” The Select Board recommended affirmative action. Other towns in the area have enacted similar restrictions.

“The Attorney General’s limited standard of review requires her to approve or disapprove bylaws based solely on their consistency with the state law, not on any policy views she may have on the subject matter or wisdom of the bylaw,” the office noted.

Campbell’s approval letter noted that during the review process, “We received correspondence urging this office to disapprove Article 37 on grounds that the bylaw amendments were proposed by one resident, were arbitrary, and were passed by a small number of the town’s population.”

Further, the “opposition” said “it should be a personal choice how one addresses climate change rather than a requirement imposed by town government.”

But Campbell’s office weighed in that “none of the arguments raised in the opposition provide grounds for our disapproval of the bylaw amendments. Because the amendments adopted under Article 37 do not conflict with the Constitution or laws of the Commonwealth, we approve them.”