Greenfield councilors begin talks on gas leaf blower ban, table nip bottle ban


Staff Writer

Published: 08-11-2023 9:13 PM

GREENFIELD — A handful of potential new ordinances are in the pipeline, including one that would help address the noise of gas-powered leaf blowers and another to address dangerous dogs.

Additionally, with a proposed ordinance to ban the sale of nip bottles failing to garner support from one of the councilors present at an Appointments and Ordinances Committee meeting earlier this week, it was tabled until it can be sponsored by a member of City Council.

The proposed ordinance to ban gas-powered leaf blowers was introduced to City Council by resident Garth Shaneyfelt, who gathered about 100 signatures in support.

“What I’m really interested in is people being able to actually enjoy, peacefully, their property,” Shaneyfelt said during public comment at the Appointments and Ordinances meeting. “There are currently over 100 municipalities across the country that have banned leaf blowers in one degree or another. … It’s both a health and safety thing and a quality of life thing.”

The proposal was supported by resident Pamela Goodwin at the July City Council meeting but objected to by resident Stephanie Duclos, who expressed concern that having to buy new, electric leaf blowers would put too much of a financial burden on local businesses.

“I would encourage council not to take up the banning of the gas-powered leaf blowers,” Duclos said. “I think it could be prohibitive to small landscape business owners.”

At Appointments and Ordinances, Health Director Jennifer Hoffman had questions for councilors to consider in the case of a ban, including how batteries would be disposed of. Other questions raised during the conversation included the cost of electric leaf blowers and what impact that may have on businesses, as well as what sort of timeline would be required to implement such a ban.

Precinct 5 Councilor Marianne Bullock said she would look into the subject further and that the ordinance itself is likely to resemble a noise ordinance. Though zoning bylaws indicate that disruptive noises should be avoided between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m., there isn’t necessarily a citywide noise ordinance. Precinct 7 Councilor Jasper Lapienski also had previously said he would look into drafting an ordinance, though he was not present for Wednesday’s discussion. He, too, said he planned to reach out to businesses to determine the pros and cons of a gas-powered leaf blower ban.

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“If he wants to take it on, I’m happy to take a step back,” Bullock noted.

Bullock said there is also an ordinance to address dog bites and dangerous dogs in the works that needs to be edited. She said she would have copies for councilors to review at the September subcommittee meeting.

A proposed ordinance to ban the sale of nip bottles, however, failed to garner support from one of the councilors present on Wednesday and thus was tabled until it can be sponsored by a member of City Council. At least one resident, Paul Jablon, spoke in support of the ordinance, arguing that they’re often used by people who struggle with alcoholism to continue their use of the substance.

“In each case, they use nips as a way to keep their use of alcohol … secret from their kids, from their significant others and from other extended family members,” he said, speaking from the personal experience of people close to him. “I’ve seen this in many, many people. They also [use nip bottles] to fool themselves.”

A handful of residents and business owners countered that banning nip bottles is not the solution, nor would it help eliminate the concern of littering caused by these bottles.

“Nip size is very popular and many do use it as a way to regulate their drinking,” countered Steve Schechterle, president of The Spirit Shoppe on Federal Street. “What is happening in other communities, such as Chelsea and out on the Cape, where they have implemented these knee-jerk bans, people have moved up to half pints.”

Chris Sexton, who owns Ruggeri’s Discount Beverage and Redemption Center on Deerfield Street, added that he is working on the state level to change the bottle bill, which requires retailers to redeem containers at full deposit value while redemption centers may deduct processing fees from refunds. The intention with these bills — one of which is S.2104 — is to expand the bill to include more bottle types, including nip bottles, while increasing the deposit value.

“It is shown that when they add a deposit to the item, that item has value and someone will pick it up,” Sexton explained. “People pick up 5-cent cans all the time and bring them to me. Nip bottles will be exactly the same.”

Reporter Mary Byrne can be reached at or 413-930-4429. Twitter: @MaryEByrne.