Village of Yellow Springs adopts pesticide policy
- Published: May 28, 2023
At the Monday, May 15, meeting of Village Council, members voted 3–0 to adopt a pesticide policy for the Village’s Public Works department.
The policy was created to provide guidance for the Public Works Department after years of deliberation on the appropriate use of chemicals on Village properties. The final policy is the result of collaboration between the Village’s Environmental Commission, Public Works Director Johnnie Burns and Council members Carmen Brown and Marianne MacQueen, who researched similar policies from municipalities throughout the U.S.
Part of the task of creating the policy was finding a balance between environmentally friendly pest control and the need for stronger chemicals to maintain some Village-owned property. One such example is the use of such chemicals as Tim-Bor or Impel, which will be used to treat and extend the longevity of the Village’s utility poles. Otherwise, the Public Works department will need to use environmentally friendly pest control methods, unless specifically approved by Council.
The policy also encourages the Village to take preventative measures to “eliminate pest-conducive conditions on public land” by planting grasses and other plants that are native to Yellow Springs’ climate and resistant to pests.
Two options for the policy were presented for Council’s deliberation: the first, dubbed “option A,” would leave all pest control management decisions up to Public Works Director Johnnie Burns; the second, “option B,” would place pest control management under the purview of Village Manager Josué Salmerón.
At the Council dais, Council President Brian Housh denied requests to table the resolution from Council members MacQueen and Brown, who wanted more time to work out the specifics on who would be the designee of the policy.
“We have had a lot of difficult times about this [topic],” MacQueen said. “I want it to come to Council with everyone approving it, or I don’t want it to come to Council.”
Housh said he wanted to move the policy through and make a decision about the designee.
“I feel like the only issue here is there is an opinion that it should be the public works director’s responsibility, which I think would change the whole structure [of the chain of command],” Housh said. “I think we’ve got a good policy.”
According to Environmental Commission member Johanna Schultz-Herman, the option to designate Burns as the administrator of the policy was modeled after other municipalities with similar pesticide policies.
“We used a template from Beyond Pesticides,” Schultz-Herman said. “Most [other municipalities] have a sustainability coordinator. We had to tailor it to our needs.”
Brown said other municipalities without sustainability coordinators placed the responsibility on their public works director.
“It’s under their purview,” Brown said. “We have exemplary models from around the country, and in those policies it’s the public works director or the parks director.”
Schultz-Herman also said there was a sense of wariness after the village manager purchased chemicals to treat Ellis Pond, which the Environmental Commission believed to be unauthorized.
“We feel that it’s important that the person overseeing this program has hands-on experience and awareness of what our ordinances and laws and policies are,” Shultz-Herman said.
Despite calls for a ban on pesticides in the village following a 2013 misapplication of herbicides at Gaunt Park pool, Council never passed a moratorium on chemicals.
Salmerón attempted to allay concerns, saying he makes all chemical purchasing decisions with Burns.
Ultimately, Council decided to vote on the legislation, naming Salmerón as the designee for assuring the policy is followed. The resolution passed on a 3–0 vote, with Housh, Council members Kevin Stokes and Gavin DeVore Leonard voting in favor of the measure, and Council members MacQueen and Brown abstaining.
In other Council business, May 15:
Council approved two requests for support from the Yellow Springs Chamber of Commerce and The 365 Project. Both groups requested funds to support events they are hosting in June.
Mark Heise, who is the president of the Chamber of Commerce, requested a $15,000 in-kind donation from Council to help cover the cost of setting up and policing Street Fair, which will be held Saturday, June 10. The set up cost includes nearly $10,000 in wages for the Public Works Department and $5,000 in wages for the Yellow Springs Police Department.
As part of his appeal to Council, Heise said Street Fair generates millions of dollars in revenue for Greene County.
“Greene County depends on us to make this happen,” Heise said.
In response to a question from the News, Housh said the money for the sponsorship would come from the Village’s Council Commissions budget. He acknowledged that the donation to Street Fair would nearly deplete the $16,396.49 remainder of the $25,000 budget for the year.
“We are going to have to think about what that looks like moving forward,” Housh said. “We need to think about transparency around what events cost while recognizing the benefits.”
Council also approved a $1,250 request for a Juneteenth celebration hosted by The 365 Project. The celebration, modified from the 10-mile walk held last year, will feature a walk from Yellow Springs High School to Mills Lawn Elementary. Following the walk, participants will gather for a picnic lunch, hear a presentation from speakers on the history of Juneteenth and listen to music from the World House Choir and DJ Basim Blunt.
Representing The 365 Project was Kevin McGruder, who initially asked for $1,200 to cover the cost of their permit fee, which includes blocking off Short Street. Council approved the request, saying that they would be open to donating more, following a cost analysis that will determine how much labor is needed to shut down Short Street and if additional police will be needed.