On Monday, the city of Orlando pushed through some of Florida’s weakest fertilizer regulations despite public outcry asking city leaders to take more time to develop policy and rewrite the regulations.
Members of the Sierra Club and the League of Women Voters – two very influential organizations – were at the City Council meeting on Monday hoping to slow the process. Many were dismayed that a seemingly progressive and environmental city like Orlando would adopt a weak fertilizer ordinance and rush the new regulations through.
Jacob Galvin of the Sierra Club expressed what many were feeling inside the council chambers, saying the timing was quick and the ordinance was loose and unrestricting. Galvin talked about serious community concerns such as the danger to the aquifers and the environmental impact from commercial fertilizers which contribute to algae blooms and unnecessary manatee deaths among other problems. But there are also concerns about the possible impact to tourism.
Cities throughout Florida have stronger fertilizer ordinances than Orlando’s including Tampa, Sarasota and the city of Rockledge, which recently passed a stronger ordinance that residents here hoped Orlando would duplicate.
When word got out that Orlando would be considering such a weak ordinance, organizers got busy informing the public in the short time frame they had. Groups made calls all weekend and attempted to raise awareness quickly to make it a community issue. Galvin even offered Mayor Buddy Dyer a sticker on the way into Council.
However, the City Council voted to pass the weaker ordinance despite the pleas from the public. The move contradicts promises made by leaders like Dyer to protect the environment and city leaders were quick to make excuses and shift blame to others, like the state legislature, instead of taking accountability or explaining the rushed process.