State says no pesticide violations at the golf club

Planning Board to review town’s wetlands ordinance July 7

After being the subject of an informal review by the Division of Pesticide Control in the New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, the Dublin Golf Club has been cleared. Department officials say no violations in the use of pesticides have been found.

Pesticide inspectors and David Rousseau, director of the Division of Pesticide Control, visited the golf club on June 12 and determined state requirements regarding setback distances and storage and application of pesticides were being met by club officials, according to a letter Rousseau wrote to Steve Baldwin dated June 13.

The visit included a review of the pesticide license for the club’s superintendent, Milton Brown Jr. The state license allows the licensee to purchase, handle, and store certain pesticides. Rousseau said in an interview Monday that Brown’s credentials are up-to-date and in order.

“Mr. Brown has had his license for over 20 years. There was no reason to think that anything is being done out of the ordinary,” Rousseau said.

The review unfolded after Steve Baldwin — a member of the Dublin Planning Board who was acting as a private citizen — brought up concerns regarding the use of pesticides at the club to the Department of Agriculture. In response, Rousseau and his staff conducted an investigation, in addition to the regular review of pesticide use that the department does every year in December.

Officials also took a closer look at the club’s pesticide use report submitted last December, Rousseau said.

No soil or water samples were taken during the visit. “We didn’t find any irregularities or anything that indicated there were any violations. I didn’t feel there was a need to take any further actions,” Rousseau said.

Baldwin said in an interview Monday that he wished the inspectors had taken water and soil samples to verify that the use of the chemicals was not damaging the land and water nearby.

Baldwin also stated that pesticides present a risk for wildlife and human health, and that he’s advocating for more controlled use of them in the town of Dublin.

“There is no safe use when it comes to pesticide. These are dangerous chemicals,” Baldwin said.

Dublin’s land use regulations, Article XIII, A: 4, states that the Wetland Conservation District’s purpose is to protect wetlands from pesticides, but the document does not prohibit the use of pesticides. Specifically, the Wetlands Conservation Overlay District was created to “minimize the effects of nutrients, sediment, organic matter, pesticides and other pollutants that can threaten the quality of the wetland,” among other purposes.

State regulations establish that pesticides can’t be applied any closer than 400 feet from public wells and 25 feet from non-public waters.

Baldwin said he would like to see the town’s ordinance reviewed and amended. In a statement Baldwin sent to the Ledger-Transcript on Monday, he called pesticides “a chemical weapon designed to kill.”

In the statement, Baldwin advocated for a safe use of water resources and wetlands. On Monday, Baldwin said he encourages citizens and the Conservation Committee to help him impose a more protective and easier to enforce wetlands ordinance.

In an interview with the Ledger-Transcript earlier this month, Rousseau said that pesticide use is common practice in golf clubs around the state and the country.

“It is nothing unusual. The field can easily be attacked by plagues, so that’s why they use pesticides,” Rousseau said.

Reviewing the town’s wetland ordinance is on the agenda for the next Planning Board meeting, which will be held on July 7.

Dublin’s Town Administrator Sherry Miller said Monday that any changes to town ordinances could not be approved until March 2015.

“If the Planning Board feels they want to amend any town ordinances, they can work on it and propose changes, and then those have to be voted on and approved during Town Meeting,” Miller said.

Rousseau explained that in many cases, town wetland ordinances are usually not very specific “because the state establishes regulations that are enforced over any local ordinances.”

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