(recieved) 7 March 05
NEIGHBOR NOTIFICATION LAW
You may have seen recent news stories about requiring tree and lawn care companies to notify residents of all properties bordering customers, every time pesticides (including Roundup ®) is sprayed. The legislators who want to enact this requirement have not taken the time to properly research it. You need to contact your legislator, and below are some key points to consider when you do so. This political issue will not only hurt small business, but also adversely affect our communitys environment.
First, consider the negative environmental impact of the proposed legislation:
If enacted, this law will actually increase the presence of pesticides in the environment. Granular pesticides will be exempt from notification, so more tree and lawn care companies will go back to blanket treating with them, as opposed to spot spraying the actual pest. It is not possible to spot treat with a granular product. Granular products are much more likely to hit non-target areas such as driveways, sidewalks, and roads, so the potential for storm water runoff and aquifer contamination is much greater.
The Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach will be discouraged by this law. IPM relies on frequent, careful inspection of the property and spot treatment of pest outbreaks when they are small, before pests are out of control and large amounts of pesticides are required. With the Neighbor Notification Law, we will not be able to treat at the time of inspection, but must notify all adjacent properties and then wait 48 hours to treat. If it rains, treatment could be delayed further. Insect populations build quickly, and treating the resulting infestation will require more product, or longer lasting products.
In counties that have already enacted the Neighbor Notification Law, a dramatic increase in the sale of granular pesticides has been reported by the companies that sell these products. The overall increase in actual pounds of pesticides applied is being reported to the NYSDEC.
Notification will have to be in writing. For each property treated, each neighbor will have to receive written notice every time How many more pieces of mail per year, will end up in local landfills or recycling centers?
The 48-hour notification law will not benefit our environment!
Second, consider the costs to small business, which are prohibitive and an unnecessary burden. Certified professionals will have to provide written notification to all adjacent properties to each customer. Each customer has an average of five visits each, with 3-5 neighbors, the annual cost for small to medium size business to comply will be at least $50,000-$100,000 per year. Small business can not absorb these costs, so they will have to be passed on to clients. The increased costs may be enough of a burden to cause some of them to cancel and do it themselves. Some smaller businesses will not be able to weather this burden and will go out of business. This will limit consumer choices, often to larger national companies whose revenue does not stay in Monroe County.
Thirdly, please consider the effect of the media and the facts. What about neighbors that are concerned about drift?
State laws already exist allowing a zero tolerance for spray drift, which are enforced by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Violation results in stiff penalties. Pesticide regulations are clearly stated in manuals that certified applicators must read and be tested on before receiving certification.
Our media continually mentions an incident involving one woman who claims that she and her children were exposed in 1998 to lawn chemicals being applied to her neighbors property. The company involved in this met with her. When, after meeting with her, could not alleviate her fears, the NYSDEC and the Board of Health were called in and a thorough investigation performed. No violation was found and the company was exonerated.
The D&C news is so desperate for more stories that they advertised on March 2nd asking for people to write them if they thought they had ever been harmed by pesticides.
Andy Doniger, the Monroe County Health Director, was asked publicly, exactly how many incidents of drift complaints he has received over the past several years. He said none, and that it has not been an issue.
Companies are happy to provide notification to any neighbors of customers who request it due to their fears.
There is very little request for such notification.
How did this legislation come to be considered? County Executive Maggie Brooks made a commitment to the board of directors of the Breast Cancer Coalition that she would bring it to the legislature. County legislator Mary Valerio, a breast cancer survivor supports this notification.
Maggie Brooks stated to three lawn care company owners, Laurie Broccolo, Bob Ottley and Don Burton on March 1st that she is not supporting that this notification pass, only that the legislature take a serious look at it.
In support of the intent of the law to notify those who request it, the legislature can pass a resolution for a voluntary notification registry. The county can maintain this list through Cornell Cooperative Extension or the Environmental Management Council of Monroe County. The list would be available to all certified applicators in the county.
Ulster County has adopted this approach and it works.
What would be the cost to Monroe County Taxpayers to enforce this regulation? How can we prove that weve notified the neighbor if they say we didnt? Will enforcing this regulation take much needed funds away from legitimate public health issues like lead poisoning of children in older homes and schools?
Two years ago this bill was brought to the legislature and defeated for all the reasons outlined above. At that time, Laurie Broccolo was asked to meet with the Breast cancer Coalition to discuss voluntary registration. They refused to meet. Broccolo TLC Vice President Cindy Halm convinced them to meet on February 28th of this year. Instead of a small informal one-on-one discussion, they we were greeted by a large group including local activists. Not only were common sense points dismissed, but they attacked the industrys personal integrity. They also stated that they are committed to banning all aesthetic use of pesticides.
Many people that work in the Green Industry, have had experience with personal losses due to cancer and are not insensitive to their commitment. If this legislation would benefit the health of our citizens and environment, the industry would support it wholeheartedly. But it will not do this!
In a legislative committee meeting on March 2nd, twenty-nine people spoke in favor of this legislation, and none could provide any evidence linking residential use of pesticides to cancer. After hearing all comments, both for and against the legislation, the panel voted in favor of moving this bill to the full legislature on March 8th.
Call your legislators, write them, or better still meet with them in person. Be sure to use their home phones and addresses as there have been reports of legislative staff screening the calls and stating that there is no need to meet because the legislators have already made a decision. Scary politics. However, some legislators say they just have not heard from opponetts of the bill. Others have commented that it just doesnt seem like it could hurt, so unless they hear evidence to the contrary, will support it. You need to let them know to vote NO and stop this bill before it has a devastating effect on our local economy and our environment. Your legislator can be looked up at www.monroecounty.gov/org
Thank you so much for your time, your support, and your commitment to our community.