MARCO ISLAND — On the heels of several other Southwest Florida communities creating more stringent rules on the use of lawn fertilizers, Marco City Council is to decide Monday whether to follow suit.
Marco’s proposed ordinance is very similar to the rules passed by Naples City Council about a year ago.
In his memo to council on the issue, Community Development Director Steve Olmsted said the financial impact to property owners is expected to be negligible.
“Unless enforcement requires an inordinate staff effort or compliance requires substantially more expensive fertilizer, the proposed ordinance will not have a financial impact on the city,” he wrote.
The financial issues may receive more review Monday at the meeting scheduled 5:30 p.m. in the Community Room, 51 Bald Eagle Dr.
However, the most significant impact of the rules are to be on the environment as run-off of certain nutrients, particularly nitrogen and phosphate, causes algae blooms, harms fish and shellfish, causes odors and discoloration, deteriorates water recreation and negatively affects human health.
Key requirements Council will consider in the proposed ordinance are:
- Fertilizer may not be applied during the rain season, which is June 1 through Sept. 30
- Phosphorous content of the fertilizer is limited to 2 percent and it must be at least 50 percent slow release nitrogen, which can be determined by reading the content information printed on bags for consumers.
- Fertilizer may only be applied up to four times per year.
- Fertilizer is not to be used within 10 feet of a waterway, or within three feet of a waterway if a shield on the spreader or dispenser is used.
- Retailers of fertilizers are to post notifications on restricted use
- Lawn and landscape service providers working within city limits are required to be certified annually at a cost of $25.
- Landscape professionals are required to complete a course at the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve or other approved provider to be issued the certificate.
The first reading of the ordinance is Monday and to become law, it will require a second reading at a future meeting.
Also to be considered Monday, is stricter regulation of trees planted on public property. When Council considered regulating tree planting and maintenance in August there was some controversy over whether ficus should be prohibited and how much regulation of private property there should be.
Due in-part to the controversy, council chose to begin with an ordinance regulating public property only, particularly private trees planted in or near the public right of way.
Key aspects of the public tree ordinance are:
- Trees trunks should be at least three feet away from the public property line or a permit must be obtained.
-Private property owners are required to ensure proper pruning from electric lines and keep trees clear of utilities. n A tree fund is being established, which will go toward public trees and landscaping. The fund will be made of donations, fines, and fees.
n Fees for permits may differ. Fines for violations are up to $250 per day and more for repeat violations.
Monday’s agenda also includes a consent agenda item for the city to purchase sodium hypochlorite, commonly known as bleach, which is used for water disinfection. The request is to piggy-back on the City of Mulberry’s contract and award Odyssey Manufacturing Company, a contract to supply bulk sodium hypochlorite at a delivered price of $0.85 per gallon. Public Works Director advised Council that last year the city spent about $340,000 on the chemical.
An item not on the agenda is the city budget.
City Manager Steve Thompson said further discussion on that may come during a workshop scheduled Oct. 19.
“At this point, we have a balanced budget and I have direction from Council ... We’re starting the new year,” Thompson said.