The proposed ordinance is modeled after a similar measure under consideration in South Portland.
By Dennis Hoey, Staff Writer
Portland Press Herald news story
Two Portland city councilors said Tuesday that they support a proposal that would significantly restrict the use of synthetic pesticides in the city.
Portland’s pesticide ordinance, which is being drafted, should be modeled after a similar ordinance under consideration in South Portland, the councilors said. South Portland’s proposal would first restrict synthetic pesticide use on most city parcels and then expand it to private property.
Though no votes were taken, the two members of the City Council’s Energy and Sustainability Committee each said Tuesday evening that they support restricting synthetic pesticide use and moving toward organic land management practices.
A public hearing and vote could take place as soon as April 20, the committee’s next regularly scheduled meeting, Chairman Jon Hinck said.
“I don’t think the committee wants to spend months on this issue,” Hinck told the roughly 75 people who packed the council chambers at Portland City Hall. “So lets move on this.”
Hinck and fellow councilor Edward Suslovic both informally endorsed the proposal. The committee’s third member, newly elected City Councilor Spencer Thibodeau, recused himself, citing a potential conflict of interest. Thibodeau said his law firm represents a pesticide company.
“When we live cheek by jowl in a city as congested as Portland, what I do on my property … I’ve got to be sensitive to my neighbors,” Suslovic said. “I’m very concerned about the impact pesticides could have on my neighbors.”
“I’d like to see Portland become more protective of its residents in the area of pesticides. We should not be allowing chemical pesticides to get into our waterways or into Casco Bay,” Hinck added.
The committee will eventually vote on a recommendation that will be presented to the City Council for final adoption.
Julie Rosenbach, South Portland’s sustainability coordinator, and Henry Jennings, director of the Maine Board of Pesticides Control, each made presentations to the committee Tuesday.
Rosenbach said it has taken several months for South Portland to develop a draft ordinance that would restrict the use of synthetic pesticides.
That proposal would impose restrictions on synthetic pesticide use on city-owned properties during the first year and apply those restrictions to private property after two years. South Portland defines synthetic as formulated or manufactured through a process that chemically changes a substance extracted from naturally occurring sources.
The South Portland ordinance would allow for exemptions. Rosenbach said her city found that few, if any, golf courses can be managed successfully without some synthetic pesticide use. The city-owned South Portland Municipal Golf Course will be exempt until organic turf management practices have become better established.
Jennings said that licensed pesticide applicators currently treat Portland’s Riverside Municipal Golf Course, but are not allowed to use pesticides within 25 feet of the Presumpscot River, which meanders by the course.
Other South Portland exemptions might allow synthetic pesticide use for public health reasons such as reducing mosquito populations, or eliminating poison ivy or carpenter ants, Rosenbach said.
Rosenbach said the city wants to move toward organic pest management – which rely on substances derived from mineral, plant or animal matter.
“It’s still a work in progress at this point,” Rosenbach said.
Members of the group “Portland Protectors, for healthy kids, bees and waterways,” which supports passage of an ordinance in Portland, handed out flyers before the meeting and gathered petition signatures it will present to the City Council. One of its flyers read, “Why in the world would we ever treat our food, land and water with poisons?”