Town Council to discuss herbicide ban

Fri, 08/24/2018 - 9:30am

Two familiar items hotly debated in the past have made there way back onto the Town Council’s agenda. Those items are: the unsafe operation of mopeds, particularly on Weldon’s Way, and the potential dangers of the herbicide glyphosate, found in the weed killer known as Roundup. 

The items were raised during public comment at the Town Council’s Aug. 15 meeting, and debated later during a new “future agenda items” discussion. This is a new process for this Council, and the result of Councilors requesting a change to the Council’s practice of creating its agendas. Several Town Council members had complained over the past few months about not being able to get items they requested on the Council’s agenda.

Glyphosate use

Resident Michael Chapman read from a prepared text during public comment, noting the issues associated with glyphosate, a herbicide is found in the popular weedkiller Roundup. Chapman called for an “island-wide ban” of the substance, which he said has been documented to lead to fatal health consequences.

Chapman referenced the news that that Roundup was the cause for a San Francisco school’s groundskeeper being diagnosed with a terminal form of cancer. That groundskeeper was awarded $289 million in damages. Chapman said that story creates an “opportunity for us to have a discussion about the necessity of its use at the expense of exposing our children, our neighbors, [and] our water systems.”

“I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t want Roundup used around my home, or in my food,” said Chapman. “So I’m asking you to consider an island-wide ban.” There has also been a petition posted on Facebook asking for an island-wide ban on the product.

During the agenda item discussion, Boudreau said the Town Council should keep glyphosate on its radar. “It’s a no-brainer.” Boudreau noted that since plastic bags, and plastic straws were given attention, and banned, that the topic of glyphosate should be given the same consideration.

“My opinion would be: this is a Conservation Commission thing,” said Councilor Sven Risom. “They discussed this topic in detail a couple of years ago, and there were a lot of people in the audience who were not in favor of a ban.”

“Why?” asked Boudreau.

Risom said it was due to “regulations,” and the commission and members of the public presented “a lot of science and research” regarding the substance. “So, I think the question is: do we want to tackle this?”

“I think it’s a discussion worth having,” said Willi.

Weldon’s Way congestion

Resident Chris Warfel voiced his concerns regarding what he felt was an unsafe situation created by moped drivers and business owners who rent them on Weldon’s Way. “I’ve had it,” said Warfel, who noted that he witnessed “four near accidents in three days. No one should not be arrested driving the way the mopeds do on Weldon’s Way.”

“This is nothing new,” said Warfel, who noted inadequate signage on the street. “But why is this going on? This has been going on for two months. To me this indicates preferential treatment for people who have businesses on that street. This is just not right.”

Later, the Council debated the topic, with Second Warden André Boudreau stating that he wanted to investigate the formation of a police commission to enforce violations, such as moped violations. during the summer months. “It’s in our Charter. I want to look into it. I know there’s been some resistance to it. Is it worth it? I don’t know.”

“I agree,” said Councilor Chris Willi. “It would be a good mechanism so the police commission can hear items that the public wants to be considered.” Willi said the police commission should have an ongoing dialogue with the Police Department about the moped problem.

First Warden Ken Lacoste said if someone has concerns they should either talk to the Police Chief, or create an agenda item to discuss the safety issue at the Council level. 

“A lot of people want a police commission,” said Councilor Martha Ball. “I don’t want that. I want something done.”

Resident David Lewis said that the solution could involve funding the Police Department to add more personnel to enforce the issue. “So, I think a police commission is the wrong place to be thinking. I think the public is frustrated with the congestion; it’s getting on people’s nerves.” Lewis noted that this “could be the worse year for mopeds on dirt roads.”

Lewis said the bottom line is that “people want the Town Council to feel their pain — enough to fund” a solution to the problem. “People like a response from somebody — like the Town Manager.”

Town Manager Ed Roberge said that he intends to “bring all four moped operators together” to address the issues associated with Weldon Way. Roberge noted that the public should notify the town manager’s office if they have an issue on the island.

As a result, an item to discuss a ban of glyphosate, as well as the moped issue will be added to a future Town Council agenda. The next Council meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 4 at 7 p.m.