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Nanny State of the Week: New Jersey’s great leaf-blowing war


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Fall brings temperate weather, changing colors, falling leaves and — if the nannies in New Jersey have anything to say about it — backbreaking labor.

Neighborhood advocacy groups across the state have been working to prohibit the use of leaf blowers, which they say are too noisy and disrupt the peace and quiet of their neighborhoods.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Dale

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Dale

HOT AIR: Leaf-blowers are a hot topic of conversation, and prohibition, in affluent New Jersey suburbs.

Earlier this year, Maplewood, New Jersey, banned leaf blowers used by commercial businesses for the summer, largely because residents objected to the loud noises. Now, activists in Princeton are working to ban leaf blowers for the same reason.

Quiet Princeton, an organization of local Princeton residents opposed to anything breaking the peace of the New Jersey town, has pushed for a reduction in leaf-blower noise. There are existing regulations on the books about leaf-blower noise, but that’s not enough for Quiet Princeton.

“Back in the ’90s an effort was made in Princeton to ban leaf blowers outright, but it failed,” Tony Lunn, a Quiet Princeton activist, told Mercer Space, a publication of Community News Service.

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Princeton’s current ordinance calls for landscapers to be as quiet as possible, but its subjectivity has the activists upset. “No one would think this reasonable,” Lunn said. Some have attempted to get a 65-decibel limit written in as the legal regulation.

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In Maplewood, the city is holding hearings to expand the summer leaf-blower ban. An Oct. 18 Township Committee meeting had many residents voicing their hatred for leaf blowers.

“Why should they be able to disrupt my quality of life as a taxpayer so my neighbor can have a few blades of grass blown around?” one resident said, according to

A prohibition limited to commercial leaf blowers means the burden falls disproportionately on landscaping companies, rather than, say, ...

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