MONTCLAIR, N.J. (PIX11) – It’s a fight that has landscapers gassed up.
“In this business, time is money,” said Kevin McMillan, owner of McMillan Landscape Contractors based in Nutley.
It’s the time of year for lawn and leaf cleanup, and McMillan wanted to demonstrate for PIX11 News a gas-powered leaf blower versus one powered by a battery. He thinks the difference is night and day.
“Significantly more powerful,” McMillan said about the gas-powered leaf blower.
McMillan’s company was performing work at a customer’s house in Glen Ridge, where gas-powered leaf blowers are OK to use. But just a few hundred feet up the road, crossing the border into Montclair, they have to switch to battery-powered.
In August, Montclair’s council voted to ban gas-powered leaf blowers year-round, an ordinance that begins on Monday, Oct. 16.
Mayor Sean Spiller told PIX11 News via email the town took public comment from residents for over a year. He said with many being home during the COVID-19 pandemic, noise and disturbance brought on by gas leaf blowers became a point of focus, as well as environmental impacts and the health of the workers.
Now, more than a dozen landscaping companies are part of a lawsuit against Montclair, hoping for a change.
“It would cost the customers a lot more money,” said Jeff Baker from R&J Land Care based in Clifton. “If you have to use the batteries, it takes a lot more time. It’s almost like going backwards, so to speak.”
According to the lawsuit, Montclair’s ordinance violates both state and federal constitutions.
Landscapers say they’re not shying away from battery-powered leaf blowers, saying it will get better with time. But they say it’s not there yet.
“We’re not against the green movement,” said Dominick Caruso of Caruso Property Services based in Glen Ridge. “I have two small children at home. I want nothing more than to leave less of a carbon footprint. But if the tools aren’t available, there’s no way we can do it.”
The landscapers are hoping the town might let them use their gas leaf blowers during a certain time period to help them get through the fall season.
“We’re fighting for our customers, our employees and lastly our business,” said Caruso.