WASHINGTON — A Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge has struck down a pesticide ban that would have gone into effect in January.
Judge Terrence McGann found that the legislation barring homeowners and landscapers from using certain pesticides on private property was preempted by state law. The county passed the ban in 2015.
Montgomery County Council member George Leventhal, who worked to enact the ban, said he was “very disappointed” with the judge’s ruling.
Seth Grimes, an activist and former Takoma Park council member who supports the ban, was in the courtroom Thursday when Judge McGann issued his ruling.
“Frankly, we were quite angry,” Grimes said.
Takoma Park enacted a pesticide ban in 2013 that Grimes said has been successful. He said state law doesn’t do enough to protect residents.
“We need this law to protect health,” Grimes said. “Judge McGann didn’t recognize that. We’re disappointed.”
Several lawn care companies testified in opposition to the bill. They said it would have a negative impact on their businesses and that they followed federal and state regulations regarding the use and application of pesticides.
The county council passed the legislation by a 6-3 vote in 2015, but Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett didn’t sign the bill citing concerns that it was open to legal challenge.
Montgomery County could still appeal the ruling.
“The Council sits as the Board of Health, but the court has ruled that we are preempted from protecting our residents from this health threat,” said Montgomery County Council member George Leventhal in a statement released after the ruling. “This sets a worrisome precedent for the ability of local governments to protect their residents on vital issues of health and safety. I’m looking forward to reviewing our legal options on this matter.”
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