Tenafly Council Sparks Lively Debate on Green Initiatives: Leaf Blowers, Solar Panels, and Local Business

In a recent Tenafly Borough Council meeting, officials engaged in a vigorous discussion around significant environmental and sustainability topics, sparking lively debate over the implementation of green initiatives such as electric-powered landscaping equipment, solar panel installations, and local business support.

A passionate resident, affiliated with environmental organization Green Faith and the Church of the Atonement’s environmental committee, instigated an extensive debate on a potential leaf blower ban, citing the noise and pollution generated by gas-powered leaf blowers. With Maplewood Township having established a precedent in 2021, she argued that advancements in battery technology have made a switch to electric leaf blowers more practical and cost-effective.

Councilwoman Dayton reminisced about her previous attempt in 2020 to propose a noise control ordinance for leaf blowers, suggesting a structured schedule akin to garbage collection to mitigate incessant noise. Despite her previous proposal failing, Dayton expressed readiness to reintroduce the ordinance with fellow council members’ support.

The council also scrutinized the local 65-decibel noise ordinance established by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. Some council members highlighted the health hazards posed by noise pollution, especially to children, as identified by the CDC. They proposed shifting focus to the environmental benefits of electric equipment rather than entangling in complexities of noise regulation. This extensive debate concluded with the proposal to involve local landscaping companies and task the environmental commission for a comprehensive understanding of the matter.

Local businesses and downtown rehabilitation featured prominently in the council discussions. Jonathan Krieger, president of the chamber, championed the idea of “shop local, support local” banners at prime locations to boost local shopping. The council was largely in favor, with one member mentioning “the more the merrier”. Discussions were also held on the upgrades of downtown light posts and the electrical grid to accommodate individual business lighting efforts, subject to safety and legal implications.

A local resident named Linda expressed her wish to install solar panels on her house, only to be obstructed by the town’s tree ordinance, which does not consider solar power installation a valid reason to trim or remove trees. This sparked a debate on the need to review the current ordinances to balance solar power implementation with the preservation of local tree populations.

Council members recognized the need to consult the Environmental Commission for their expertise, acknowledging the benefits of both trees and solar energy. They cautioned against an overcorrection that could harm the local tree population, underlining the need for a balanced solution.

The council also considered the transformation of street lights into LED lights and its maintenance, urging businesses to apply for a permit if they wished to use the newly upgraded electrical grid for their own lighting.

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