Township Committee Declines to Endorse Letter Discouraging Pesticide Use at Condos, Townhouses
The Township Committee declined on Tuesday to endorse a letter drafted by the Environmental Commission that asks the township’s condo and townhouse associations to consider eliminating chemical pesticide use.
On the previous Thursday, the Board of Health had decided to wait to see what the Township Committee would do before considering whether its members, too, would sign the letter.
The gist of the letter, drawn up by the Environmental Commission in November, is to ask the homeowner associations to consider following the guidelines of a 2009 township resolution to eliminate chemical pesticide use on public property. The school district decided to adopt the same policy in 2010.
At Tuesday’s meeting Township Committeeman John Malay did not object to sending the letter, which he described as “purely informational.” The letter also would include a description of why the township decided to go pesticide-free, he said.
If approved, the letter also would be sent to the senior housing complexes of Ridge Oak and Fellowship Villages as well the homeowner associations for all ages, Malay told the committee.
But Township Committeeman John Carpenter said he considered the approach to be “intrusive.”
“It’s certainly not in our interest to insinuate ourselves into the workings of any homeowner associations,” Carpenter said. Mayor Scott Spitzer, the only other committee member at the meeting at that time, also declined to support sending the letter.
Following the meeting, Carpenter said the township’s resolution already encourages private property owners to consider following the municipality’s program for reducing or eliminating the use of pesticides and chemical weed killers.
Malay acknowledged after the meeting that the issue had gone back and forth between the multiple township groups. He said he believes both the Township Committee and Board of Health are reluctant to be perceived as interfering in matters affecting private property owners.
Joseph Speeney, chairman of the Environmental Commission, said Wednesday he had no comment on the Township Committee’s decision.
Prior to Tuesday’s meeting, Speeney said the commission had been hoping that letters could be send to the township’s homeowner associations with the signatures of both the Township Committee and Board of Health.
Speeney said the environmental commission’s letter would include resources for looking at alternatives to synthetic pesticides and fertilizers.
“The EC [environmental commission] continues to see ongoing pesticide-related concerns [six in 2010] coming from multiple [six in 2010] homeowner association (HOA) communities in Bernards Township,” said the commission’s suggested letter from the township, which had been drafted in November.
The letter notes that private homeowners have a choice of methods for lawn care. However, the letter suggests that the residents within communities governed by homeowner associations also should have a choice over the lawn care on their property, especially since most of those communities have large populations of children.