Passaic County again asked to stop spraying herbicides

West Milford. The township is trying, once again, to stop the county from spraying herbicides along the roads.

Sep 25 2019 | 12:31 PM

After three years of continuing to endure health concerns and unsightly roadside conditions, the West Milford Township Council is again asking Passaic County to stop spraying chemicals along roadsides to eliminate high grass and weeds.

A letter is going out from municipal officials to the county asking them to find a safer way address the problem.

Some council members and residents said they will take their case directly to Paterson.

Three years ago, the township sent county representatives a thick packet with information from various sources regarding the ramifications involved when chemicals believed to be dangerous are sprayed along roadsides.

County officials were asked to stop the spraying and return to mowing.

With that request apparently falling on deaf ears, the pressure for a change is again revving up on the local level.

Officials and residents said during last week's Township Council meeting that they will make written requests and also speak to freeholders at county meetings in an all out effort to ensure that spraying of chemicals that have been used will not be continued next year on West Milford roadsides.

The county response to the concerns expressed three years ago was that it determined that spraying was a cost-effective and efficient way to handle the roadside high grass and weed issue.

Councilwoman Ada Erik explained that the county can have one less worker on the job when spraying rather than sending out a crew to cut weeds, therefore saving money.

Officials and residents during the latest township meeting were in agreement that unsightly roadsides are a blemish to the township and are not what the community is all about.

Concerns that chemicals from spraying herbicides may possibly be leaching into groundwater and into the reservoir water supply that provides water for thousands of residents in North Jersey and the contamination of local water wells were expressed.

Councilwoman Marilyn Lichtenberg, liaison to the West Milford Lakes committee, saw possible health dangers to volunteers who clean up roadsides where herbicides are sprayed.

She suggested that the county might be asked to take over that cleanup chore.

Herbalist Robin Rose Bennett suggested spreading seeds of indigenous plants and flowers to return beauty to roadsides and she offered her expertise to work with officials to create a natural landscape.

Bennett said that chemical spray being used has killed milkweed that butterflies need for nourishment and also destroyed other natural plants.

She has health concerns for area people after so many years of spraying.

Renee Allessio, representing the Sustainable West Milford group, also recalled the hard-fought, unsuccessful effort three years ago when change in the way the county approached weed control was a goal.

She said the litter people throw along roadsides compounded with the dead weeds “looks awful.”

A former county health coordinator, she said she has many health related concerns for the general public because of the spraying.