The fertilizer ban ordinance passed on first reading unanimously, however several commissioners expressed that without more scientific data and other municipality experience on enforcement they may not vote for it on second reading.
Vice Mayor Vince Lago who has been a champion for smart sustainability had serious concerns over the proposed ordinance. Lago questioned why the ordinance carved out the largest users of fertilizer, golf courses and athletic facilities.
Longtime resident and activist Maria Cruz sarcastically asked if the city was going to have to implement drones to fly over and catch violators in the act. Cruz added that the recent cardboard box ban from the swale was unenforcable and she’s seen more cardboard then ever before.
The city will begin to enforce the cardboard box ban beginning in January. Lago has said that if the city is unable to effectively enforce the cardboard ordinance than he would be in favor or repealing it.
Coral Gables has four golf courses, Biltmore, Riviera Country Club, Granada and Deering Bay.
The ordinance sponsored by Commissioner Pat Keon, seeks to ban the use of fertilizer from June 1 to September 30 each year as well as tropical storm and hurricane watches.
“Excessive and improper use of fertilizers contributes to adverse effects on surface and ground water, and excessive nutrients from fertilizer run off can lead to algae blooms and cause harm to aquatic vegetation and wildlife. Recognizing that it is in the best interest of the public health, safety, and welfare of the City’s residents and visitors to reduce runoff from improperly applied fertilizers in the waters of the City, the City Commission is considering an ordinance to prohibit the application of fertilizers containing nitrogen and phosphorous during a certain time period each year. The prohibited application period would run from June 1 to September 30 each year, and whenever the City is under a tropical storm or hurricane watch or warning. Various facilities, including golf courses and athletic fields, as well as lands used for bona fide scientific research or farm operations will be exempt from the ordinance, provided that the fertilizers are applied following Florida Department of Environmental Protection and/or Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services best management practices.”
The ordinance is expected to come back at the January 14th, 2020 regular city commission meeting.