MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. — Montgomery County’s debate on banning cosmetic lawn pesticides heats up again as council president George Leventhal (D-At Large) defends his bill against a more narrowly drawn alternative.

The bill, scheduled for a committee mark-up on Sept. 17, bars “non-essential” pesticides from private lawns and most county-owned land, including parks and athletic fields. The measure would exempt agricultural acreage and golf courses and has drawn the wrath of homeowner’s associations, soccer leagues and the lawn care industry.

Council member Roger Berliner (D-Bethesda) believes that would be difficult to enforce and vulnerable to court challenge. He has unveiled a substitute version of the bill that drops the ban for private lawns and nearly all playing fields, establishing instead a five-field “organic pilot” to test the impact of minimal pesticide use. County park playgrounds would still be covered by the prohibition, and private playgrounds and day-care facilities would have to give 48 hours’ notice to users before applying any pesticides. It also gives condo and homeowner’s associations a mechanism for voting on pesticide application in common area, and allows individual residents could also decline use of the chemicals on their units.

The full council will likely take up the issue for final action on Oct. 6.

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