Winter Park’s Leaf Blower Ban May Wind Up on 2025 Ballot

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Winter Park residents could have the opportunity to vote on a repeal of the city’s ban on gas-powered leaf blowers if Sen. Jason Brodeur gets his way.

Days after City Commission approved a six-month delay on the enforcement of a citywide ban on the landscaping tools, Brodeur, who represents Winter Park, Maitland, and Seminole County, filed an amendment to a general bill that would prevent Florida cities from banning gas-powered leaf blowers. He later withdrew the measure, stating his intent to work with Winter Park commissioners to resolve the matter.

During a Feb. 14 workshop, City Manager Randy Knight briefed commissioners on what he described as a “spirited conversation” in which the state senator offered a compromise to his preemptive measure. Brodeur requested the city delay enforcing its ban until June 1 of 2025 and place an ordinance on the March 2025 ballot that would give residents the opportunity to vote on a repeal.

“We know what we’re hearing from our constituents,” Mayor Phil Anderson said. “We may not be grasping what the majority really wants so, why not let them speak?” However, Commissioner Marty Sullivan spoke against allowing a referendum. “In my opinion, we are looking to the future,” he said of the ban, which is aimed at reducing noise and air pollution. “I believe this leaf blower ban is a great step forward for our city.”

Commissioner Todd Weaver said he would not support City Commission placing the repeal up for a vote but would be in favor of a citizen-led petition to get the measure on the ballot. “I don’t think it’s incumbent on us to respond to what I consider a threat,” he said.

The qualifying number of signatures for a referendum is 10% of the total number of qualified voters registered in the last city election; a total of approximately 1,400 signatures. Vice Mayor Sheila DeCiccio asked Knight to pitch Brodeur on the petition but did not discount the possibility of Commission placing the ordinance itself. “My first choice would be a citizens’ petition drive, but I don’t want to see us preempted,” she said.

Weaver and Sullivan reiterated their belief that a referendum was not in the best interest of the residents, but the consensus was to direct Knight to bring an ordinance forward for discussion at Commission’s Feb. 28 meeting.

The ban was unanimously passed in January of 2022 with a 30-month delay on enforcement, meant to allow residents and contractors time to switch to electric models. An additional six-month moratorium on enforcement was approved at a special Commission meeting on Feb. 1 after pushback from residents and lawn care company owners, stating they were not aware of the ban and could not comply in time.

“I think we’ve done the right thing, but I also think there’s room for error,” Mayor Anderson said at the end of the Feb. 14 meeting. “This is a way to clarify that room for error.”

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