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Community Updates 

In this issue


Pesticide Bill on Hold Until Summer

Community gears up for last big push to support the legislation


By Jeff Barber

CM Environmental Writer


ROCKVILLE, MD -- The Montgomery County Council may not vote until sometime this summer on legislation that would ban the use of cosmetic lawn pesticides believed to pose a health threat to people and animals.


After two well-attended public hearings on the Bill 52-14 in January and February, the legislation now moves to the council's Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment Committee.Councilman Roger Berliner, who chairs that panel, has scheduled two work sessions on the bill for Monday, March 16, and Monday, March 30, to educate council members on the scientific issues associated with the use of pesticides and herbicides.


Berliner is assembling panels of scientists and other experts to testify before the committee and last week asked the Bethesda-based National Cancer Institute to appear, saying the council would "greatly benefit" from understanding NCI's years of research into the impact of pesticides on human health.

"Specifically, we seek your guidance as to whether the NCI believes that the exposures created by the use of pesticides for lawn care and on playing fields warrant further limitations beyond existing federal and state rules," Berliner said in his letter.


Council President George Leventhal, who introduced Bill 52-14 along with four of the nine council members, this week confirmed that a vote on the measure is unlikely before June, given that the council will be shifting its attention to approving a county budget. 


Leventhal said he believes the committee will not begin amending, or "marking up" the bill before April or May and that he expects the panel will deal with a number of proposed amendments, mostly notably an attempt to exempt county playing fields from the proposed ban.


The county parks department has lobbied for an exemption from the pesticides ban, saying it would significantly increase the cost of maintaining athletic fields and County Executive Ike Leggett has supported such an exemption.

Leventhal, however, said he has obtained a recent study that projects the parks department could actually realize a 25% cost savings by adopting an organic approach in treating athletic fields.


He also said he is likely to offer several amendments to clarify what the bill would not do, including bar the use of fungicides on trees or prevent homeowners from controlling lawn, tree and plant pests such as Japanese beetles.


Barbara Hoover, a member of Conservation Montgomery's board and the organization's lead on the bill, said she remains "very concerned" that the legislation may not pass, largely because of a well-organized and well-funded opposition. "We're talking about companies as big as those involved in the tobacco fight and they are introducing doubt about the accuracy of studies linking pesticides to disease," she said. "Opponents have also raised concerns that the legislation would infringe on property rights and diminish property values in the county in a bid to provide "something for everyone opposed to the bill." Hoover added that supporters have to continue to turn the debate over the bill into an "educational opportunity" to attract more support from the community.


And while Leventhal acknowledged that opposition to the bill is strong, he said the measure has to date received "overwhelmingly positive feedback" across the county and urged supporters to "keep it up," by continuing to contact their council members to stress how strongly they want to see a ban on cosmetic pesticides.


Writer Jeff Barber has been a business reporter and editor for more than 30 years, most recently with McGraw-Hill Financial. 



Play it safe!  Contact the Council today about this issue.

 Find more information from our partners, Safe Grow Montgomery.

Outdoor portrait of a cute young black girl lying down on the grass and smiling - African people
Has this lawn been treated with harmful pesticides?  Why make it guesswork when laws can protect us? 




Community leader Danila Sheveiko
Along with the Kensington Heights Civic Association, he fought back -- and won 5 years later.  
Photo credit: Patch 



Community Prevails on Stopping 

Costco Mega- gas station near Wheaton Homes and Neighborhood 


Margaret Mead said, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." Below, find links to the story behind the latest victory to keep what would have been the largest gas station in the county from being constructed too close to homes, a school and a community swimming pool, creating a bad scenario for air quality and human health. Thanks to the community members who stayed in the fight and to Councilmember Marc Elrich who remains supportive of increasing a buffer between projects like this and residential areas. 

Find the Gazette story here. about the victory. 


Find the Washington Post story here.



Here are 10 Tips for Winning a Battle to Protect your Community 

  • 1. Do your homework first.  Base your position on facts, not raw emotion alone. If you are relying on emotion and passion alone to win the day, the opposition will peg you as "crazy" or label you as a NIMBY. Do your research to present metrics and hard facts from credible resources. This strengthens your case every step of the way. The late Wayne Goldstein said, "Fight with the facts in hand."  Also,bring in experts from every credible organization that you can identify to help support your position.
    The late and loved civic activist Wayne Goldstein
  • 2. Try to negotiate with the opposing side of your issue first.  Make it a polite meeting.  Is it possible to gain early agreement or concessions before launching a community campaign?  No?  Then it's time to organize the community around the issue of concern.
  • 3. Be realistic in terms of what you can accomplish.  Set an achievable goal.  Often the local laws are in favor of the opposition.  Your job will be to figure out how to work with local regulations and restrictions in a way that will help you achieve the best and most reasonable outcome. Learn as much as you can about zoning and regulations. 
  • 4. Find champions in county and state government.  Having support from local decision makers is invaluable.  Related to #3, there are times when a local official can amend a law or introduce a law to fix a problem. If the laws stink, then it's time to change them. It can be done if you have the patience to work through the process with an elected official.  
  • 5. Realize that in embarking on a battle on a local issue, you and your community will spend many exhausting hours fighting the good fight.  Be willing to persevere, knowing that change will not come overnight. As the saying goes, it's a marathon, not a sprint. Some Montgomery County advocates have spent up to 8 years lobbying the State and Montgomery County legislative and executive branches of government for changes in laws. The fight over building the ICC lasted over 50 years and was still lost at the end of the day.  See next tip. 
  • 6. Fight to win but be prepared to lose too.  Even losing will teach you and your community lessons that you can apply to other issues later. 
  • 7. Coalesce!  Make sure that you are bringing your community together around the issue. Nothing speaks quite as well as the strength that comes from a large number of county residents who are behind an issue.     
  • 8. Identify a community leader.  Find a leader in your community who will own the issue, who has leadership skills, passion, and one who has the respect of local elected officials.  Try to find a leader who will bring people together and provide inspiration along the way. 
  • 9. Use the Montgomery County Council's guidance on public participation.  And treat elected officials with respect and professional courtesy. Don't attack them personally if they don't support your position.  That gets you nowhere. They are people just like the rest of us.  Some of them are terrific people even if you don't like how they vote. Plus,you are going to see these people at the grocery store, or out walking their dog. You want to be able to greet each other and ultimately find peace in all your interactions with other people. Always take the high road in dealing with public officials even if you agree to disagree. If you take the high road, you will never regret your actions.  But if you do screw up and realize you were wrong, be willing to apologize.  
  • 10. If you reach a point where you and your community are considering hiring a lawyer, think long and hard.  A good attorney may charge $175 to $250 an hour.  Can your community afford this?  If not, you will have to raise funds for legal expenses.The hours add up fast. Few attorneys are able to accept a case on a pro bono basis regardless of how good and strong an issue you present to them.    
-- Caren Madsen, for CM

Sign up for Spring "Home Tree 101" Classes today!  

Give your trees some TLC.  Bring an arborist out to your neighborhood to show you and your neighbors how to care for trees on your property. Or learn how to plant new trees with the "right tree, right place" in mind.  

Classes are still available on our Spring schedule.  


 This is a partnership project between Conservation Montgomery and the Montgomery County Government. 


ISO Treasurer
Conservation Montgomery is starting interviews for interested candidates for a volunteer treasurer who will become a member of our board of directors. If you are interested, please send an e-mail to 


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