On March 13, 2023, the Town Council voted 6-0 to send the Citizens Petition Relating to the Enactment of a Residential Pesticide Use Ordinance to a November 7, 2023 referendum. The citizen(s) behind the ordinance were hoping that a referendum would be held in June, as a November vote would delay the effectiveness of the ordinance until the summer of 2024. However, following the March 1 public hearing in which many residents spoke to both sides of the issue, the council indicated their desire to allow the Ordinance Committee time to provide input.
Chair Jeremy Gabrielson said that a November referendum, “Will give us time to go through our ordinance process and come up with possible amendments to the draft [allowable by state law]. This gives us more time to become better educated with the topic and time to work through our normal ordinance process.”
Town attorney, Marcy Costigan, reviewed the citizen petition and said that amendments that do not materially change the meaning and effect could be made and recommended that a “definitions” section be added. Costigan also pointed out that her most substantive comment regarded Section G; “The Town does not have the authority to determine when someone is ‘subject to state law,’ only the state can do that.”
Following the vote to send the citizen petition to a November vote, the council voted 6-0 in favor of sending the citizen petition to the Ordinance Committee for review and additional public comment. Gabrielson said, “My hope is that the Ordinance Committee could look at two sets of revisions. The first would be minor revisions to the ordinance, such as adding definitions. The second would be to include other consensus recommendations by the Ordinance Committee on how to make this ordinance a better fit for the community. Some of the items I would ask the Ordinance Committee to consider would be to discuss the option of applying the ordinance to municipal and residential properties.” Should the Ordinance Committee recommend enacting additional items to the ordinance, amendments could be made following the referendum.
Councilor Nicole Boucher indicated that she would like to implement changes sooner, based on repeated council goals to address pesticide use. “I would like to see this be more aggressive and I would like to have something maybe less restrictive pass sooner. Can we have an ordinance that says 'commercial applicators only for residential?' ” By relying on professional applicators only, who would be using appropriate materials and applying them per regulations, “We could more immediately do that before the season starts and anything that comes after that is in addition to that.”