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Lewes City Council votes to ban gas powered landscaping equipment

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Lewes plans to do away with most gas powered landscaping equipment in an attempt to improve air quality.

In an effort to reduce greenhouse gases and noise pollution, Lewes City Council voted to ban all gas powered landscaping equipment, except for lawnmowers, starting in 2022.

Gas string trimmers, leaf blowers and chainsaws are allowed to remain in use until 2025, when battery powered versions should be as good as their gas counterparts.

Councilperson Andrew Williams says the technology is already there for most equipment.

“The reason I wanted the five years too is just, I don’t want people dumping all of their equipment in the landfill all at once. Hopefully five years gives some time to kind of phase them out as we go.”

Councilperson Rob Morgan’s original ordinance also put gas powered lawn mowers on the chopping block, but Williams says the battery technology in mowers just hasn’t caught up, and won’t by 2025.

Councilperson Bonnie Osler says this ordinance might not even be needed. From what she's heard, most commercial landscaping companies are happy to make the switch to battery powered equipment, and consumer and commercial users alike may make the switch on their own with the need for the city to intervene.

This ordinance also creates a new environmental protections section of city code.

Williams says this new section opens the door to future policy protecting against what he sees as bigger threats than a gas powered leaf blower - such as banning pesticides and herbicides which says do immense harm to the local ecosystem.

The city council also put in motion an effort to shift their city's voter rolls to the state’s system.

City Manager Ann Marie Townshend says the two voter roll system confuses some residents.

“I’m less concerned about the administrative burden as it relates to staff as the number of people that we needed to turn away because they were registered to vote with the state, they live in the city, they showed up and they were not registered with the city. So I think it’s really more about making it easier for the voter.”

Voters have to register with the city if they want to vote in municipal elections, but must register separately with the state for other elections.

The proposal passed 3-2 with Councilperson Bonnie Osler and Mayor Ted Becker opposing it.  Olser argued this should just be a matter of educating voters about the system

Townshend says they tried reaching out to voters, but still ended up turning away at least 10-20 people for the city’s election.

The amendment to the city charter now must be approved by Delaware’s General Assembly. After that, the city council can decide if it wants to use the state voter rolls or not.

Roman Battaglia grew up in Portland, Ore, and now reports for Delaware Public Media as a Report For America corps member. He focuses on politics, elections and legislation activity at the local, county and state levels.
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