BY JAIMIE JULIA WINTERS
Although some residents are asking Montclair officials to ban leaf blowers during the COVID-19 pandemic, officials said it would be illegal to do so under the governor’s executive order.
Under township code, residents and landscapers began using leaf blowers March 1 and can continue doing so through June 30, and again from Oct. 1 through Dec. 15. Gov. Phil Murphy’s Executive Order 107 allows landscapers to continue their businesses in New Jersey, said Town Manager Tim Stafford.
At the March 24 council meeting Deborah Ellis suggested that during the state of emergency the municipality ban their usage.
“We are all confined to our homes, many of us are trying to work from home, and children are trying to learn from home. Landscapers, sometimes four at a time, are coming making noise,” Ellis said.
She also pointed to the health effects of particles and dust blowing during a pandemic that centers on the lungs.
Yvonne Layden wrote to Montclair Local stating that leaf blowers “propel into the air clouds of dirt, dust and dangerous contaminants: volatile compounds, mold and fungal spores, weed seeds, insect eggs, pollen, molecules of the myriads of toxic chemicals people spray and sprinkle on their gardens, trees, and lawns, not to mention bird and rodent feces, and more.
“The fact is it’s better to be safe than sorry. This is a no-brainer.”
Under Executive Order 107, which shut down certain businesses due to COVID-19: “Examples of employees who need to be physically present at their work site in order to perform their duties include, but are not limited to, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and other first responders, cashiers or store clerks, construction workers, utility workers, repair workers, warehouse workers, lab researchers, information technology maintenance workers, janitorial and custodial staff, and certain administrative staff.”
The brick-and-mortar premises of all non-essential retail businesses must close to the public as long as this order remains in effect.
Since landscapers do not have a brick-and-mortar business and fall under construction, they can continue their business, Stafford said.
“Given that landscapers perform their work outside and not in a brick-and-mortar premises, given that it includes those types of businesses and says ‘included but not limited,’ it’s clear the governor’s order [to shut down businesses] does not apply to landscapers,” he said.
Furthermore, he said, the governor’s Executive Order 108 prohibits counties and townships from taking initiatives against the order.
“It would be illegal,” he said.