No tick spraying at Lee Town Park

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TOWN OF LEE — After weighing pluses and minuses, the Town Board will not pull the trigger on spraying for ticks at the town park.

The board on Tuesday night approved a motion for no tick-control at the park at this time, following a review of the matter that began at last month’s meeting.

Among factors cited by board members were that the proposed spraying would focus on perimeter areas but not the entire grounds, plus there were no guarantees it would be fully effective.

Also at the meeting, the board reinforced annual lawn-watering restrictions for this time of year, and scheduled a public hearing for July 9 at 6:30 p.m. at the town hall on a proposed local law amending zoning definitions for solar-energy projects.

• For the proposed tick-spraying, Lee councilman L. James “Jamo” Jones Jr. reviewed cost estimates from three companies that he said ranged from about $487 per treatment to $1,500 per treatment. He projected that about five treatments would be applied for the remaining season.

The estimates involved treatments at perimeters including tree lines plus around structures and fences, said Jones. Ticks generally will not go in lawns and other areas where grass is cut, he added.

However, Lee Supervisor John Urtz expressed concern “if you’re not covering areas where kids play,” later adding “doing only fence liens and borders...does not make sense, not to me.” Urtz also noted his granddaughter got a tick bite on a mowed lawn. For the town park, he said parents still would need to be notified to check children for ticks since there were no guarantees from the spraying, asking “what’s different” from the current situation.

Councilman Alan Trombley said “I don’t think it’s worth it,” at one point in the discussion.

Another problem, said Urtz, would be the need to “cordon off the area” during spraying. Jones said the fastest estimates called for each treatment to be completed in about two hours, followed by not walking near or on the areas for about 45 minutes.

Jones said at last month’s meeting that the Little League organization which uses the park had asked if he would look into the tick-spraying, and that the organization had indicated there were 17 tick bites through last year. Jones said Tuesday night he had not heard about any such bites this year.

Issues with ticks and their bites have become more prevalent locally in recent years. The small bugs, which can attach to the skin and feed by sucking blood, can transmit disease-causing bacteria through a bite. Lyme disease is the most common tick-carried disease locally.

• The lawn-watering restrictions allow watering east of Turin Road on even-numbered days only and west of Turin Road on odd-numbered days only. The intent is to help avoid possible strain on town water district reserves when the weather turns hot and dry.

The town’s enforcement of the restrictions can include a $25 fine for violators.

Urtz said after the meeting that while the town currently is getting “plenty of water” based on recent rainfall, summer conditions could quickly become different based on prior years’ patterns.

The Lee water district, which has about 1,300 customer accounts, buys its water from the City of Rome system. Water usage in the town is not metered, but Urtz has said a metering system is expected to take effect by 2022.

• The July 9 public hearing involves a proposed local law to clarify where solar-commercial and solar-residential energy projects can occur in the town, said town attorney David Rapke.

Town regulations currently allow solar energy projects overall in all zones, but the proposed changes call for commercial solar energy farms only in commercially zoned areas through a permit-review process by the town, Rapke said. Residential solar energy projects can be permitted in all zones.

The Town Board last month had tabled a town Planning Board request for a moratorium on upcoming commercial solar farm projects. Planning Board members members have said the town's regulations have been vague.

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