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Jan 23, 2019 10:53 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Village Residents Rejoice Over Proposed Stricter Regulations To Landscapers

Southampton Village Mayor Michael Irving. JD ALLEN
Jan 23, 2019 10:53 AM

Cindy McNamara of East Quogue does landscaping work with her husband, Dan. The duo has one “big” client in Southampton Village that makes coming across the Shinnecock Canal worth it.

But stricter regulations on construction, property maintenance and landscaping proposed by Southampton Village officials could change that, Ms. McNamara said.

Southampton Village Board members unveiled two proposed laws at a joint public hearing on Tuesday, January 22: the first was a possible annual registration for landscapers, which the village had done in 2011 as a way to monitor who is properly licensed; and the second proposed time-of-day restrictions, in which construction and property maintenance work can be done.

The restrictions would include a summer ban for the use of gas-powered leaf blowers. Municipalities across the South Fork have debated similar regulations to offer quieter neighborhoods, however landscapers whose jobs rely on the loud maintenance tools say they aren’t ready to make the switch. Plus, landscapers would have to pay a fee to get stickers for their vehicles to do work in Southampton Village—just like a beach pass.

Ms. McNamara contends the village is unfairly targeting a specific industry with the proposed laws. She added the summer ban on gas-powered leaf blowers was impracticable for small operations like her family business.

“We cannot afford to lose this one client in the village, but the cost and headache this resolution brings doesn’t make it worth it anymore,” she said to board members Tuesday.

The village’s two proposals and subsequent public hearing were held after six months of negotiations with residents, environmentalists, public health advocates, landscapers and industry groups.

In August, residents complained about the excessive noise gas-powered leaf blowers make. Local landscaping companies packed the boardroom to defend their industry. Currently, Southampton Village does not have any ban on blowers, but has noise standards in its code. In a residential district from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., sound cannot exceed 65 decibels, and most blower brands peak way over that.

Residents renewed their complaints this week.

“The noise is really intolerable,” said Walter Skretch, a village resident. “This summer was surround sound at its best. When it was over, I had that ringing in my ears like after a band played. That’s not the quiet community we all want.”

Some village officials, like Mayor Michael Irving, and residents want landscapers to transition to battery-powered electric leaf blowers with the hope that they are quieter in addition to being emission-free.

But battery-powered leaf blower aren’t much softer—the quietest one runs at about 65 decibels, according to several industry reports. Having 65 decibels of sound is nearly as loud as running a hair dryer or vacuum cleaner. However, they do provide a more environmentally friendly and health-conscious solution, with reduced gas emissions and particulate debris.

“What we have proposed is not written in stone. I am trying to make a law that is amicable to you, the landscapers, and amicable to the residents. But the majority of the complaints I get are about you guys,” Mr. Irving said to the landscapers in the boardroom, which packed Village Hall to defend their industry.

The board wants to limit all related work to be done within the hours of 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Saturdays. All work would be prohibited on Sundays and on federal and state holidays. From May 15 to September 30, landscapers would be banned from using gas-powered leaf blowers on residential yards. The village fire marshal’s office would be charged to enforce the code.

In addition, walk-behind leaf blowers are prohibited, and no more than two hand-held or backpack leaf blowers could be used at a time, unless the property is larger than a half-acre.

Violating the nuisance and gas-powered leaf blower laws could result in a fine of up to $1,000 and/or imprisonment of up to 15 days. Punishment for invalid registration could result in fines between $250 and $2,500 depending on the number of times a landscaper has violated the law. Village officials can also revoke a landscaper’s registration.

Golf, beach and tennis clubs—and municipal employees responding to an emergency or cleaning up after a major storm—would be exempt from the restrictions. Swimming pool maintenance and snow blowing do not fall under the proposed regulations. A homeowner would also be exempt while working on their own property.

If the measure for annual enrollment is approved, individual landscapers will need to submit a completed registration form with a payment of $100; a business would pay $250. All landscapers would be required to have a valid and current Suffolk County Home Improvement License as well as provide copies of any certificates for using pesticides or fertilizers.

The board is considering certain changes to the proposed laws to allow in-kind home improvement licenses, including from Southampton and East Hamptons towns. The county license excludes the towns in its coverage, which is why landscapers double up or work without receiving county certification if they just work within the towns.

Notably, representatives for the Nassau Suffolk Landscape Grounds Association, a trade group that represents professional landscaping and gardening services on Long Island, fully supported the two proposals—with some caveats.

H. Pat Vogues echoed the McNamaras, saying the cost to register annually is too steep for landscapers. For instance, landscaper Phil Fox employs 26 people, and would need to pay thousands of dollars to get his trucks and crew registered. Worse, he asked, is how the village’s one code enforcement officer would be able to handle nearly six, 10-hour shifts.

“A law without enforcement is a joke,” Mr. Vogues said.

His wife, Pat Voges, offered the village assistance in helping to teach and certify landscapers in consumer affairs law, pesticide regulation and disposal practices.

Landscapers gave the board additional notes for their consideration, including creating an incentive for them to purchase battery-powered leaf blowers, such as reducing or waiving registration fees, and for the village to have a strategy for how to deal with lawn clippings and waste. Lawn clippings are a valuable source of nitrogen, and could save landscapers a fortune if they didn’t have to remove them from properties, Mr. Voges said.

For the McNamaras, if the proposed laws stay the way they are, it would mean their business would suffer.

“A blower to me is a 10 minute job,” Mr. McNamara said. He prides himself on buying the top-of-the-line equipment for him and his wife, so the two of them can get every job done efficiently for the few, but valuable accounts they have.

“It was real quiet when I was kid,” said Mr. McNamara, who grew up in Water Mill. “It’s not quiet here anymore. There are a lot of people out here now.”

At the end of the night, board members continued the public hearing to their March 14 meeting, with the hope that laws will be in place before summer.

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Registration is a good thing, if you have enforcement. The village doesn't have the personnel to do it.
Landscapers blow leaves and pile them in the roadway. They should be required to remove them.
By knitter (1941), Southampton on Jan 23, 19 1:53 PM
2 members liked this comment
Village tax dollars go to Village leaf removal.
By zeke (40), southampton on Jan 25, 19 5:58 AM
I think the village homeowners pay taxes for the leaf pick up. And the village picker uppers will actually do more than one sweep.

Will the Parks & Rec be banned from leaf blowers too? Are there even any leaves to blow from Memorial to Labor Day?
By foodwhiner (148), Southampton on Jan 23, 19 2:12 PM
1 member liked this comment
Village employees can be seen using blowers on Main Street and Jobs Lane early in the morning all summer long.
By EA Yastrzemski (5), Southampton on Jan 25, 19 4:58 PM
1 member liked this comment
So no noise for the people who come out here for 15 weekends but noise is allowed for the full time residents who believe it or not also enjoy peace and quiet...got it.
By GoldenBoy (351), EastEnd on Jan 23, 19 4:38 PM
Golden boy.. you got it!
By Win sky (58), Southampton on Jan 23, 19 5:37 PM
Make it a year round ban. I’m sick of all the noise. The only good thing about the winter is the lack of constant power tools every day. Which isn’t to say it’s quiet all winter. In a day above 40 degrees you’ll hear power saws from construction on houses and damned gas powered hedge trimmers. Then they put the trimmed hedge branches in a wood chipper.
When spring comes, it’s every. single. day.
And I’m sick of landscapers pretending they’re power ...more
By btdt (449), water mill on Jan 23, 19 6:02 PM
1 member liked this comment
The Hamptons : Old folks retirement community.
Old retired people have nothing better to do than to complain about something. The Village Board has nothing to do but follow up on ridiculous claims.
"the man's ears were ringing from the noise of the leaf blower" How close were you to the landscaper? Following feet behind him?
When we are fortunate to live in a beautiful community like this, we have to make up things to be upset about.
These are "First-World" problems. Next snow ...more
By deelove (152), Bridgehampton on Jan 23, 19 6:08 PM
2 members liked this comment
I have tinnitus resulting from landscaper gas hedge clippers. They work 10-12 hours at a time. Noisy equipment is a health hazard to workers and innocent bystanders. OSHA rules supposedly protect the workers. No observed landscaping crew has turned down their equipment when people are nearby. They often work to darkness and are brazen to use their truck headlights to see into the night. There is no mandated safety training. The weekenders are not there when the crews come, only us crabby old people ...more
By TheTurtle (143), Southampton on Jan 24, 19 2:41 PM
Majority of the time, those landscapers operating into the dark using their headlights, are generally operating illegally , without the proper licensing . The laws are not enforced , nobody is checking on them and now all the legal registered landscapers pay the price for all.
By toes in the water (884), southampton on Jan 26, 19 7:36 AM
Define ‘landscaper’ please. There are mow and blow landscapers , gardeners and Rosalina’s who may all, at one time or another need to use a blower. Would a gardening mom and pop fall under this law, how about a 4 person rose care business. Lots of grey area here.
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Jan 23, 19 6:57 PM
1 member liked this comment
Damn spell check!! Rosarians I said.
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Jan 23, 19 6:59 PM
How does garden work require a home improvement license?
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Jan 23, 19 7:01 PM
2 members liked this comment
Honestly, It's a good thing for home owners and legal businesses. The homeowner has peace of mind that the company has all necessary insurance in place. Workmans Comp, Liability, Umbrella, just to name a few. None of this is cheap. Even the home improvement license is a huge form to fill out yearly that I believe we pay $450.00 for and they don't even mail it to you, so you have to remember to renew and its a long form to fill out. That being said, it levels the playing field. There are tons of ...more
By Aspatuck Gardens (30), Westhampton Beach on Jan 25, 19 11:52 PM
The reason for licensing is to make sure the people working on your property have workmen’s comp and liability. In the end that’s a good reason for a license.
By Fred s (3321), Southampton on Jan 23, 19 7:09 PM
1 member liked this comment
certain horticultural businesses do not fit the criteria of home improvement.There are certainly a lot of folks here with ZERO knowledge of the industry, they must do all the work on their properties themselves.
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Jan 23, 19 11:02 PM
2 members liked this comment
Requiring companies to have insurance is not a bad thing. The industry is the same as all the companies that do work out here. You have to have insurance.
By Fred s (3321), Southampton on Jan 25, 19 8:01 AM
1 member liked this comment
Right Fred S, now we have to pay to prove what we have had all along. How very government like.
By dnice (2346), Hampton Bays on Jan 26, 19 9:03 PM
Do you want someone working on your property not covered by insurance? No comp or liability? A license let’s you know a company has insurance, simple as that. Argue about regulations all you want. If someone gets injured on your property, you are holding the bag.its a necessary evil.
Jan 26, 19 9:17 PM appended by Fred s
I’m not advocating for licensing, if you have the necessary ins, there should be no problem.if you are competing against someone who’s not playing on an even playing field, it stinks.
By Fred s (3321), Southampton on Jan 26, 19 9:17 PM
no sympathy for landscapers. i remember when rakes were actually used. this is a quality of life issue and no one should have to listen to leaf blowers at 7pm on a friday. electric leaf blowers have come a long way too
By BrianWilliams (87), on Jan 23, 19 7:38 PM
They should have restricted gas-powered blowers 25 years ago, not after they've become embedded in the fabric of the economy. Perhaps restricting them only in certain districts where the lot sizes are smaller? Seems like this is only an issue when the neighbors are close enough to hear. Or, allowing them to be operated in a "sector" only one day each week. Get it over with all at once.
By Funbeer (273), Southampton on Jan 23, 19 9:49 PM
Go back to raking! The noise is terribly annoying and the blowers damage plants around the area they are blowing. I wish they would ban leaf blowers completely all year round!
By Rich Morey (378), East Hampton on Jan 23, 19 10:33 PM
2 members liked this comment
Let's make it easy. Ban all blowers at all times. Raking does a better job anyway. Most of the leaves are being blown from one place to another only to return with the first breeze.If the landscapers have to charge more for the extra time it takes then so be it. Raking leaves should create more jobs anyway.
By yellowbea (1), East Hampton on Jan 23, 19 10:43 PM
Make things harder for the working man. Perfect! Noise from machines is a part of modern life. These people need to get over themselves. And of course the village is more than happy to impose a fee on anybody they can. What a joke.
By HB90 (164), southampton on Jan 24, 19 12:31 AM
Why is the Fire Marshal going to enforce this code?
By Draggerman (955), Southampton on Jan 24, 19 7:49 AM
I guess the entire Village landscape will look like that crazy lawn at the Post Office on its worst day.
By themarlinspike (542), southampton on Jan 24, 19 8:55 AM
1 member liked this comment
OMG so funny and you're right how unsightly is the post office!

By EA Yastrzemski (5), Southampton on Jan 25, 19 5:05 PM
Here is what this resolution really says: You can work on the plumbing and electric in a home, clean the pool, or treat the foundation for termites, and we don’t need to verify that you are licensed to do so. However, if you want to cut the grass at that house not only are we going to need to verify that you are licensed you’re going to have to pay us for an additional license. If that makes sense to you, then congratulations, you’re a politician.
By cmac (184), East Quogue on Jan 24, 19 9:11 AM
1 member liked this comment
Fire Marshal is enforcing it because the Village cops are too busy. They have to do their second jobs as security and house watching. while on duty.

Villages way to sell rakes in the village now ?
By Local247 (39), Southampton on Jan 24, 19 10:01 AM
1 member liked this comment
The village should ban grass. Get rid of it all. Only beach grass should be permitted. No more grass to cut; no more landscapers clogging up traffic and side roads; no more fertilizer runoff into the lakes and ponds.
By deepchanel (89), Hampton Bays on Jan 24, 19 11:10 AM
3 members liked this comment
Full ban Thursday through Monday period. Blowers allowed Tuesday and Wednesday only 8 to 4 pm 300 fine 1st. 750. second. 1,500 Third.
By jameshoge (6), Southampton on Jan 24, 19 12:07 PM
Wow it’s cheaper to pay a fine for driving a vehicle with out a license ! Where is the logic in charging a larger fine for using a leaf blower than charging a person operating a potentially deadly machine without a license .

We have it all bass ackwards !
By toes in the water (884), southampton on Jan 24, 19 5:43 PM
2 members liked this comment
Clueless and selfish.
By zeke (40), southampton on Jan 25, 19 6:00 AM
1 member liked this comment
Create a Make Me Feel Good Law or Ordinance and Attach a Fee to it. That's exactly what Long Islands Politicians are All About, Village, Town and County. None of these people including the ones complaining have ever mowed their own lawn or strapped on a Red Max 8500 and cleaned a yard.
A Commercial Mower can cost $14-16,000, a Blower $750 not including Fuel and Maintenance and that's only a small part of it. Landscapers are going out of Business every year because No One Can Make Any Money ...more
By Brady (15), Southampton on Jan 25, 19 9:13 AM
2 members liked this comment
I was just thinking to myself what this town needs are a few more regulations to appease folks who care about these thing. Of course, minimal if any enforcement of these new regulations will be the plan so as not to disrupt everyone else who could care less about these regulations.
By Seajay (12), East Quogue on Jan 25, 19 3:06 PM
Thats the thing too.. We follow all laws to the letter. Southampton Home Improvement License East Hampton Home Improvement License , Pesticide Applicator License (we use organic solutions). Suffolk County License, Hazardous Chemicals License (to sell fertilizer at our garden center) and with all of that it requires huge amounts of money in insurance, but it's the right thing to do. Even though it's barely ever enforced and most of our industry has none of these licenses and nobody enforces it. ...more
By Aspatuck Gardens (30), Westhampton Beach on Jan 26, 19 12:00 AM
Gas blowers & trimmers are variable speed so if you don't pull the trigger to the max they are no louder than electric and you won't score the cylinder as fast and actually extend the life of the machine.
If they want to take my gas blower, they will have to pry it from my dead, cold, 65 year old hands.
By themarlinspike (542), southampton on Jan 26, 19 8:03 AM
In these United States, we believe that the punishment must fit the crime .... a $1000 fine and or 15 days in jail does not even come close to this requirement. The town is insane. How about a more realistic regulation like blowers and lawnmowers must be used between 9am and 5pm on weekdays and 11 to 3 pm on weekends. NO fees for a permit. Max fine of $100 for each infraction. This town is getting STUPID with it's regulations. Look at the number of businesses in the village who are shutting their ...more
By jediscuba (71), Suthampton on Jan 26, 19 9:27 AM
1 member liked this comment
This Cindy McNamara in the article here, she’s the same Cindy McNamara of East Quogue who posts on this site as “cmac,” right? The same one who backs the plans of Discovery Land to destroy the EQ pine barrens, right? And the same one who’s boosting an incorporated village for East Quogue, right?

So now how does Cindy McNamara/cmac like being on the receiving end of regulation by an incorporated village? Not so much, I guess.

But maybe I’m looking ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Jan 26, 19 3:45 PM
1 member liked this comment
Why are you attacking Cindy??? This article has nothing to do with Discovery Land . She’s an amazing person and her family is not the only one being affected by this Bill . Keep your agenda to yourself while you hide behind your screen name .
By toes in the water (884), southampton on Jan 27, 19 6:01 PM
I don’t hide, toes. Everyone who follows this site with any care knows what my name is, and they often address me by name in their own, mostly critical, comments. If I choose not to reveal my name directly online, that’s my privilege, but if you haven’t learned it by other means, you just haven’t been paying attention.

As for Ms. McNamara, she is an open and vocal supporter of the greatest environmental and economic threat to Southampton Town in history, namely, ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Jan 27, 19 10:26 PM
3 members liked this comment
As I said Butterball, this article has NOTHING to do with Discovery Land. Its ridiculous that you will “oppose” her, in the way you have , in an article that has nothing to do with what your ranting about.
By toes in the water (884), southampton on Jan 28, 19 7:15 AM
1 member liked this comment
From Urban Dictionary -
Troll: A member of an internet forum who continually harangues and harasses others. Someone with nothing worthwhile to add to a certain conversation, but rather continually threadjacks or changes the subject, as well as thinks every member of the forum is talking about them and only them.
By cmac (184), East Quogue on Jan 29, 19 12:14 PM
Once east quogue forms a village we should also vote to ban blowers
By adlkjd923ilifmac.aladfksdurwp (747), southampton on Jan 30, 19 10:44 AM
... and blowhards
By William Rodney (561), southampton on Jan 30, 19 2:08 PM
1 member liked this comment
Ah, Turkey, you will never admit that you may be wrong and responding to you is the equivalent of caving to a 2 year old's temper tantrum, but here goes nothing...

Rather than hide in the comment section of 27 East, I am publicly vocal on many issues. If that opens me up to criticism from keyboard crusaders like yourself then so be it. I am not anyone's puppet. You need only to look at the minutes from my time on the EQ BOE to confirm it. My no votes are the only ones you will find. I ...more
By cmac (184), East Quogue on Jan 29, 19 11:41 AM
This is the real story here: "A blower to me is a 10 minute job,” Mr. McNamara said"

By SlimeAlive (1181), Southampton on Jan 29, 19 1:24 PM
I call complete BS. If you can't make money in the Hamptons as a landscaper then you seriously should not be in the business.
By Hambone (514), New York on Jan 30, 19 12:15 AM