NORTH FULTON COUNTY, Ga. - A Johns Creek man says a city judge told him he would go to jail for overusing his leaf blower.
Kim Treaster takes great pride in his backyard paradise at his home in the St. Ives Country Club in Johns Creek.
“I’m kind of one of those freak guys who likes to work in the yard and take care of a lot of things,” Treaster told Channel 2’s Mike Petchenik.
Treaster said some of his neighbors on Henley Fields Circle aren’t happy about him using a leaf blower several times a week.
“They started to come onto my property and told me stop blowing, stop working in your yard and it got really, really ugly,” he said.
Treaster maintains he only uses his blower during the times his Homeowner’s association allows for it, between 8 AM and 6PM.
In July, Treaster got a citation from the city of Johns Creek claiming he had violated the city’s noise nuisance ordinance.
He said he went to court and pleaded guilty after bad advice from an attorney, paid a $250 fine, and was told he could only use the blower three times a week for 30 minutes at a time.
“If we find you working out of those times, we’ll put you in jail,” he said a judge told him. “I walked away going, ‘what country are we in that they could put me in jail?’”
Johns Creek city officials told Petchenik they can’t comment on the case because Treaster is now appealing the fine and will have a trial Thursday. A spokesman sent Petchenik a copy of the ordinance.
It says someone can be cited under the nuisance ordinance for noises for “Loud or unusual noises which are detrimental or annoying to reasonable people, including without limitation unusual loud disturbances in or around churches or multiple-family complexes, such as loud music and other activities in swimming pool and clubhouse areas.”
Petchenik used a decibel meter to check the noise level of Treaster’s blower and stood about the same distance away from Treaster as many of his neighbor’s homes.
The reader registered a level of about 71 dB, which by comparison, is 5 dB louder than the average conversation and about 9 dB quieter than a phone’s dial tone.
Petchenik also tested the decibel level of a nearby landscape crew’s leaf blower and it registered at about 69 dB.
“The sounds coming out is so low that it’s just incredible,” said private investigator T.J. Ward, who is helping Treaster with his legal fight. “I was able to observe another family’s yard at the end of Mr. Treaster’s street who had a contractor working in the yard with two blowers the decibels were twice of what Mr. Treater’s was.”
Treaster said he just wants the right to keep his yard up.
“I can work in my yard,” he said. “I would think most Americans you should be able to work in your yard.”