News Feature

Blue Hill
Originally published in The Weekly Packet, July 23, 2020
Ordinance needs new vote for not filing with state

by Anne Berleant

A 2-1 margin victory on July 14 for proponents of the Blue Hill Healthy Ecosystem Ordinance was short lived after the force behind the ordinance, Rick Traub, learned that since he didn’t file the ordinance with the Maine Board of Pesticides, the 588 to 276 vote in favor is void.

“I was very heartened to see the 2:1 vote in favor,” Traub said. “It is an unambiguous statement that voters in Blue Hill are concerned about the effects of pesticides on human, animal, and environmental health and want to live in a pesticide-free environment.”

The ordinance bans the use, sale and possession of synthetic pesticides, and was brought to voters via petition. With the effective date set for January 1, 2021, the ordinance itself does not need to be changed but voters will have to reaffirm its passage into town law.

“I am frustrated, and at the same time, in view of everything happening in the country right now, a re-vote is not something I am gong to get worked up about,” Traub said. “I do feel bad for the people who spent all day counting the votes and will have to do so again.”

Traub discovered the snafu after Jean English, editor of the MOFGA (Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association) newspaper, called Megan Patterson, the director of the state board of pesticides control, to ask if Blue Hill was the first town to ban synthetic pesticides, Traub said. Patterson then called Blue Hill Town Clerk Etta Perkins, as Patterson had not received the ordinance before the vote, as required.

“I imagine there will be an even larger turnout in November,” Traub said. “I am hopeful that the 2:1 margin will hold and even more people will vote yes.”

If approved in November, Blue Hill will be the first town in Maine to ban synthetic pesticides. To read the ordinance and for more information on synthetic pesticides, visit bluehillhealthyecosystem.com.