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The New York State legislature passed the Neighbor Notification Law in June 2000, a law that only applies to the counties that opt to adopt it. The proposal for Monroe County to opt-in was introduced in January by Republican County Executive Maggie Brooks. The Monroe County legislature passed the law by a vote of 21-8 after five months of deliberation.
The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reported that environmental, health, and lawn industry groups debated the decision during four county meetings prior to the final vote. Industry opposes the law.
The arguments opposing the opt-in included questioning the economic impact in the community and the hassle of paperwork. A compromise was suggested with a proposed voluntary registry for those who want notification. The experience of the five boroughs of New York City, Erie, Tompkins, Albany, Rockland, Westchester, Nassau and Suffolk counties, which have already successfully adopted the decision, helped to quickly table these discussions. After the opt-in was passed, the lawn care industry announced that it plans to seek a legal appeal. These exact arguments came up several years ago when Rockland county decided to opt-in.
Supporters of the bill contend that the Neighborhood Notification Law protects people’s right to know and human health.
Judith Enck, environmental policy adviser to state Attorney General Elliot Spitzer, said the right-to-know is a “principle memorialized in decades-old legislation covering air and water pollution. Homeowners will now get written warnings before airborne chemicals are used within 150 feet of their properties.”
"Keeping Monroe County moms in the dark is not right," said Rochester homemaker Julie Frisk, mother of a 20-month-old baby. She said some pesticide applications take place three feet from a neighbor's windows.
Regardless of the debate this is a bipartisan issue with both Democrat and Republican leaders supporting the decision.
For more information about pesticide news and policies in New York, or your own state, see Beyond Pesticides State Pages.