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The Daily Tar Heel

Don't stop blowing

A total ban on leaf blowers would be too extreme, so town officials should consider a less restrictive measure to reduce some of the noise.


he Chapel Hill Town Council heard Monday residents' comments about a proposal to rid the area of leaf blowers, which have been called noisy and which cause pollution.

Council member Cam Hill has led the effort to end local use of the machines. Some of the town's residents have chimed in, expressing concerns that their sidewalk experiences have been disrupted by the noise created by blowers.

But, in this case, one person's peace and quiet shouldn't come at another person's expense. If council members eventually decide to eliminate the blowers, the cost to local businesses that rely on the machines would be too severe.

It seems only logical that, under a ban, these companies would face additional costs that would force them to raise prices. The loss of leaf blowers would drive businesses to hire more employees for additional working hours.

A ban also would make it so that a homeowner wanting to use a leaf blower to take care of his or her own lawn would be unable to do so.

Hill has argued that blowers emit high amounts of carbon dioxide. But Ron Holdway, director of the Orange County Environmental Health Services Division, said leaf blowers are not significant polluters.

The effect of the machines on the environment is unclear, and officials should explore the full impact of the machines before coming to a conclusion.

An outright ban on leaf blowers is an extreme measure, but the concerns raised Monday call for some action in the middle ground. A time restriction on using leaf blowers - for example, prohibiting their use between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. - might provide enough relief from the noise.

A time-based restriction on leaf blowers would ensure that pedestrians have their allotted time to roam walkways without having to deal with oppressive noise. Such a rule also would allow for businesses and homeowners to use blowers at some point during the day.

An outright ban on leaf blowers in Chapel Hill would be a reactionary response that could have unintended and negative results. Chapel Hill should avoid such a measure.

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