The Council’s Sustainability & Transportation Committee will review pesticides ordinances for the first time and hold a public hearing to accept public comment at its June 21 meeting. The meeting will take place in Council Chambers at 5:30 PM. The Committee will review two pesticides ordinances -- one drafted by the City’s Task Force as well as the South Portland ordinance.
“The Sustainability and Transportation Committee looks forward to putting forward a strong pesticide ordinance to the full Council that works for the City of Portland,” said Councilor Spencer Thibodeau, Chair of the Committee. “I have long been concerned about the impact these chemicals have on our community and the environment. In order to achieve a strong pesticide ordinance, I have asked the Committee to consider both the South Portland pesticide ordinance and the Task Force recommendation. I am grateful for the leadership of Task Force Chair Nick Mavadones and Mayor Strimling on this issue and look forward to the upcoming conversation.”
"My goal in appointing the Task Force was to find a workable way that we can take the extensive and comprehensive work already completed in South Portland and tailor it to fit Portland’s needs," stated Mayor Ethan Strimling. "I look forward to hearing the public testimony and participating in the robust discussion that is sure to follow. As I indicated in my State of the City address back in January - and it’s a stance I still firmly hold - we must enact a comprehensive, loophole-free synthetic pesticide ordinance that fully protects Portland’s families, children, pets, and wildlife."
For the last year, the Pesticide and Fertilizer Task Force, which was created by the City Council in May 2016, has been working to draft an ordinance to present to the Council. The City Council created the task force to review the South Portland draft ordinance and assess its appropriateness for adoption in the City of Portland; evaluate whether chemical fertilizers should also be addressed; consider other measures from other jurisdictions regulating pesticide and fertilizer use; and consider the costs and benefits of adopting new regulations; (Order 263-15/16)
After extensive deliberation, the Task Force voted (10-1) to recommend a draft ordinance that prohibits the use of any pesticides, organic or nonorganic, on turf areas in the City of Portland. This includes public and private property. Areas covered by the ordinance include lawns, athletic fields, parks, and similar open spaces. It also applies to areas such as patios, driveways, and walkways. A property owner would be able to apply for a waiver from the City to apply a pesticide in certain situations such as to control invasive plants or to protect public health and safety. A waiver request would have to be in writing and provide an explanation of the emergency situation to be addressed, non-pesticide measures attempted, as well as a detailed plan describing the proposed pesticide application. Broadcast or pre-emptive applications would be prohibited. The City would be required to issue a response within three days and may require specific conditions and safeguards if a waiver is approved.
The draft ordinance would also establish a Pesticide Oversight Committee tasked with assisting with the development and distribution of educational materials designed to educate residents, businesses, and retailers about the ordinance and landscaping practices that do not require pesticides. This group would also use written documents provided by property owners requesting a waiver from the ordinance to prepare an annual report to the Sustainability and Transportation Committee regarding the amount and types of pesticides used in the City of Portland.
The task force endorsed an ordinance that restricts the use of pesticides for cosmetic purposes and prioritizes landscape management practices that do not require the use of pesticides. These include proper irrigation, mowing grass high, leaving grass clippings, overseeding, and selecting appropriate plants for specific environments. These practices improve overall soil health and, if conducted properly, result in healthy landscapes without introducing potentially harmful substances into the environment. The City promotes these practices to minimize the impacts of pesticides and fertilizers that run off lawns and other surfaces during rain events. For more information about Yardscaping visit: http://www.portlandmaine.gov/1382/Resident
About the Task Force
The task force is comprised of a diverse group of stakeholders including environmental groups, a scientist, property owners, and landscaping professionals. Led by Councilor Mavodones, they met regularly between June, 2016 - January, 2017. They reviewed the South Portland pesticide ordinance, policies in other jurisdictions, existing State regulations, as well as the City’s policy regarding applications on public property. Members discussed the merits of a wide range of approaches to regulating pesticide use, from requiring a strictly organic approach to codifying landscape management techniques elaborated in the integrated pest management (IPM) strategy.