The Falmouth Town Council is resuming work to update and pass a stricter pesticide and fertilizer ordinance and will hold two more information sessions as part of the process.

The council hopes to adopt what has become a controversial update by November, according to a draft schedule released by the town, and has tentatively scheduled workshops for Aug. 21 and Sept. 25 for public input. The workshops will also feature a panel of people with environmental and pesticide and fertilizer expertise.

The decision to host more community sessions came after a survey with nearly 600 responses showed 57.5% of residents were opposed to the draft ordinance, according to Town Councilor Bryce Hach. In May, the council paused the update process to synthesize that feedback and do more public education.

“We wanted to use this time to supply some clarity … We want (the ordinance) to be the best one possible,” Hach said, adding that that’s a higher priority than sticking to the target November deadline.

Some councilors said not all members of the public had good information about the proposed policy and its impacts.

“It’s clear to me that there are a lot of people in town who care about this, in both directions, but that many of them did not actually really know what the ordinance did or the rationale behind it, or even necessarily what the facts were, if they were opposed. So I think these workshops are critical,” said Town Council Chair Jay Trickett.


The draft ordinance discussed by the council in early April is more stringent than the current rules adopted in March 2020. It would ban certain types of pesticides and fertilizers, such as neonicotinoid pesticides and fertilizer containing phosphorus. It also bans the use or sale of substances prohibited on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances and bars pesticide and fertilizer application within 75 feet of any water body or watercourse.

The current policy requires licensed commercial pesticide and fertilizers applicators to annually register with the town, and applicators must provide summary reports of applications made in Falmouth during the prior year. It also prohibits the application of fertilizer between Dec. 1 and March 31. The new proposal also bars application of fertilizers between these dates.

Hach said his breakdown of the survey responses showed 42.5% of respondents were in favor of the proposal, and 57.5% were against.

Hach said the 42.5% of survey respondents who supported the draft ordinance commented about soil and water quality in Falmouth and beyond.

Opposing comments could largely be sorted into five categories, he said: the ordinance would be hard to comply with;  these sort of restrictions should be handled at the state level; objections to some of the individual provisions, like the distance restriction on bodies of water; questions around why certain town-owned properties would be exempt; and concerns about the ability to fend off pests like mosquitoes and ticks.

A number of Maine municipalities have moved to ban or restrict the use of pesticides and fertilizers. The process to update Falmouth’s ordinance began back in 2022, when the Conservation Commission proposed amending the ordinance to further regulate pesticides and fertilizers, according to the town.

Join the Conversation

Please sign into your Press Herald account to participate in conversations below. If you do not have an account, you can register or subscribe. Questions? Please see our FAQs.