Vienna could be more pleasant, family friendly and healthier if the town banned the use of cosmetic lawn chemicals and noisy gas-powered leaf blowers, resident Avril Garland told the Town Council July 11.
Both of those policies already have been implemented in Montgomery County, Md., said Garland, who lives on Hillcrest Drive, S.W.
Montgomery County in 2015 passed the Healthy Lawns Act, which restricts the use of lawn-care pesticides on public and private property and playgrounds.
Quoting from the act, Garland said the unnecessary use of lawn pesticides and herbicides for cosmetic purposes “contributes to the deterioration of water quality.”
The 2014 U.S. Geological Survey found 90 percent of urban waterways had pesticide levels sufficient to harm aquatic life, she said. Neurotoxic neonic pesticides harm bees and certain lawn pesticides have been linked to pediatric cancer and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, she added.
Pesticides also have been tied to many adult maladies, including Parkinson’s disease, and may cause cancer in animals, Garland said.
“They say ‘A perfect lawn is a poisoned lawn,’” she said.
The Montgomery County Council in June also proposed banning the sale and use of gas-powered leaf blowers and leaf vacuums, Garland said. The county will hold public hearings on the matter Sept. 30, she said.
Montgomery County’s existing noise ordinance limits sounds to 70 decibels within 50 feet of the listener. After receiving 60 noise complaints from residents, the county’s Council decided to proposed banning such lawn-care devices instead of having to send out police officers for each violation, Garland said.
“These machines cancel out the simple joy of human contact,” she said.
Dining outdoors with family and friends is life-enriching, but intolerable if lawn crews are working nearby, she said.
“Instead of having words and jokes, all of the space is just surrounded with loud, diabolical noise,” Garland said, adding facetiously, “I mean, if you can read lips, great, or use sign language. So we just have to get our plates and our glasses and scurry inside. This is a total degradation of family life.”
Garland asked the Council to add both of those proposals to its annual legislative wish list for the upcoming General Assembly session. As a Dillon Rule state, power rests with the General Assembly unless specifically delegated to localities.