Leesburg Fertilizer Ordinance


ORDINANCE NO.     19-3 6

 AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF LEESBURG, FLORIDA AMENDING CHAPTER 28 OF THE CODE OF ORDINANCES ENTITLED STORMWATER; RESTRICTING THE TIMING OF APPLICATION AND CONTENT OF CERTAIN FERTILIZERS; RESTRICTING APPLICATION PERMITTED WITHIN TEN (10) FEET OF A WATERBODY; PROVIDING FOR INCLUSION IN THE CODE; PROVIDING FOR SEVERABILITY; AND PROVIDING AN EFFECTIVE DATE.

WHEREAS, the quality of the lakes, streams and wetlands in Leesburg are critical to the environmental, economic and recreational prosperity of the City and its residents; and

 WHEREAS, the City Commission desires to implement an ordinance pursuant to the Model Ordinance for Florida-Friendly Use on Urban Landscapes contained in Section 403.9337, Florida Statutes; and

NOW THEREFORE, be it ordained by the City Commission of Leesburg, Florida, as follows: 

1. FINDINGS

As a result of impairment to Leesburg's surface waters caused by excessive nutrients, or, because of increasing levels of nitrogen in the surface and/or ground water within the aquifers or springs within the boundaries of Leesburg, the City Commission has determined that the use of fertilizers on lands within Leesburg creates a risk of adversely impacting surface and/or ground water. Accordingly, the City Commission Leesburg finds that management measures are required by this ordinance.

2. PURPOSE AND INTENT

 This Ordinance regulates the proper use of fertilizers by any applicator; requires proper training of Commercial and Institutional Fertilizer Applicators; establishes training and licensing requirements; establishes a Prohibited Application Period; specifies allowable fertilizer application rates and methods, fertilizer-free zones, low maintenance zones, and exemptions. The Ordinance requires the use of Best Management Practices which provide specific management guidelines to minimize negative secondary and cumulative environmental effects associated with the misuse of fertilizers. These secondary and cumulative effects have been observed in and on Leesburg's natural and constructed stormwater conveyances, rivers, creeks, canals, springs, lakes, estuaries and other water bodies. Collectively, these water bodies are an asset critical to the environmental, recreational, cultural and economic well-being of Leesburg residents and the health of the public. Overgrowth of algae and vegetation hinder the effectiveness of flood attenuation provided by natural and constructed stormwater conveyances. Regulation of nutrients, including both phosphorus and nitrogen contained in fertilizer, will help improve and maintain water and habitat quality.

3. DEFINITIONS

"Prohibited Application Period" means the period during which a Flood Watch or Warning, or a Tropical Sto1m Watch or Warning, or a Hurricane Watch or Warning is in effect for any portion of Leesburg, issued by the National Weather Service, or if rainfall greater than 2 inches in a 24-hour period is likely.

 "Leesburg Approved Best Management Practices Training Program" means a training program approved per 403.9338 F.S., or any more stringent requirements set forth in this Article that includes the most current version of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s "Florida Friendly Best Management Practices for Protection of Water Resources by the Green Industries, 2008," as revised, and approved by the Leesburg City Manager.

"Saturated soil" means a soil in which the voids are filled with water. Saturation does not require flow. For the purposes of this ordinance, soils shall be considered saturated if standing water is present or the pressure of a person standing on the soil causes the release of free water.

"Slow Release," "Controlled Release," "Timed Release," "Slowly Available," or ''Water Insoluble Nitrogen" means nitrogen in a form which delays its availability for plant uptake and use after application, or which extends its availability to the plant longer than a reference rapid or quick release product.

"Turf," "Sod," or "Lawn" means a piece of grass-covered soil held together by the roots of the grass.

"Urban landscape" means pervious areas on residential, commercial, industrial, institutional, highway rights-of-way, or other nonagricultural lands that are planted with turf or horticultural plants. For the purposes of this section, agriculture has the same meaning as in s. 570.02.

4. APPLICABILITY

 This Ordinance shall be applicable to and shall regulate all applicators of fertilizer and areas of application of fertilizer within the area of Leesburg unless such applicator is specifically exempted by the terms of this Ordinance from the regulatory provisions of this Ordinance. This Ordinance shall be prospective only, and shall not impair any existing contracts.

5. TIMING OF FERTILIZER APPLICATION

 No Applicator shall apply fertilizers containing nitrogen or phosphorus, or both to turf or landscape plants during the Prohibited Application Period, or to saturated soil.

6. FERTILIZER FREE ZONES

 Fertilizer shall not be applied within ten (10) feet of any pond, stream, watercourse, lake, canal, or wetland as defined by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (Chapter 62-340, Florida Administrative Code) or from the top of a seawall, unless a deflector shield, drop spreader, or liquid applicator with a visible and sharply defined edge, is used, in which case a minimum of 3 feet shall be maintained. Newly planted turf and/or landscape plants may be fertilized in this Zone only for a sixty (60) day period beginning 30 days after planting if need to allow the plants tobecome well established. Caution shall be used to prevent direct deposition of nutrients into the water.

7. LOW MAINTENANCE ZONES

 A voluntary ten (10) foot low maintenance zone is strongly recommended, but not mandated, from any pond, stream, water course, lake, wetland or from the top of a seawall. A swale/berm system is recommended for installation at the landward edge of this low maintenance zone to capture and filter runoff. If more stringent Leesburg Code regulations apply, this provision does not relieve the requirement to adhere to the more stringent regulations.  No mowed or cut vegetative material may be deposited or left remaining in this zone or deposited in the water.  Care should be taken to prevent the over-spray of aquatic weed products in this zone.  Care must be taken to ensure erosion of the surface soil does not occur. Excessive erosion may be a greater pollution hazard than occasional proper applications of fertilizer.

8. FERTILIZER CONTENT AND APPLICATION RATES 

(a) Fertilizers applied to turf within Leesburg shall be formulated and applied in accordance with requirements and directions provided by Rule SE-1.003(2), Florida Administrative Code, Labeling Requirements For Urban Tmf Fertilizers.

(b) Fertilizer containing nitrogen or phosphorus shall not be applied before seeding or sodding a site, and shall not be applied for the first 30 days after seeding or sodding, except when hydro-seeding for temporary or permanent erosion control in an emergency situation (wildfire, etc.), or in accordance with the Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan for that site.

(c)  Nitrogen or phosphorus fertilizer shall not be applied to turf or landscape plants except as provided in (a) above for turf, or in lJF /IFAS recommendations for landscape plants, vegetable gardens, and fruit trees and shrubs, unless a soil or tissue deficiency has been verified by an approved test.

9. APPLICATION PRACTICES

(a) Spreader deflector shields are required when fertilizing via rotary (broadcast) spreaders. Deflectors must be positioned such that fertilizer granules are deflected away from all impervious surfaces, fertilizer-free zones and water bodies, including wetlands.

(b) Fertilizer shall not be applied, spilled, or otherwise deposited on any impervious surfaces.

(c) Any fertilizer applied, spilled, or deposited, either intentionally or accidentally, on any impervious surface shall be immediately and completely removed to the greatest extent practicable.

(d) Fertilizer released on an impervious surface must be immediately contained and either legally applied to turf or any other legal site, or returned to the original or other appropriate container

(e) In no case shall fertilizer be washed, swept, or blown off impervious surfaces into stormwater drains, ditches, conveyances, or water bodies.

10.  MANAGEMENT OF GRASS CLIPPINGS AND VEGETATIVE MATTER

 In no case shall grass clippings, vegetative material, and/or vegetative debris be washed, swept, or blown off into stormwater drains, ditches, conveyances, water bodies, wetlands, or sidewalks or roadways. Any material that is accidentally so deposited shall be immediately removed to the maximum extent practicable.

11.  EXEMPTIONS

 The provisions set forth above in this Ordinance shall not apply to:

(a) Bona fide farm operations as defined in the Florida Right to Farm Act, Section 823.14 Florida Statutes; 

(b) Other properties not subject to or covered under the Florida Right to Farm Act that have pastures used for grazing livestock;

(c) Any lands used for bona fide scientific research, including, but not limited to, research on the effects of fertilizer use on urban stormwater, water quality, agronomics, or horticulture.

(d) Golf courses, athletic fields and Turf managed for active recreation, whose owners implement best management practices as described in Section SE-1.003(2)(d), F.A.C. entitled "Fertilizers Labeled, for Sports Turf at Golf Courses, Parks and Athletic Fields", as amended.

12. TRAINING

(a) All commercial and institutional applicators of fertilizer within the incorporated area of Leesburg, shall abide by and successfully complete e the six-hour training program in the "Florida Friendly Best Management Practices for Protection of Water Resources by the Green Industries" offered by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection through the University of Florida Extension “Florida-Friendly Landscapes" program, or an approved equivalent.

(b) Private, non-commercial applicators are encouraged to follow the recommendations of the University of Florida IFAS Florida Yards and Neighborhoods program when applying fertilizers.

 13. LICENSING OF COMMERCIAL APPLICATORS

(a) Prior to 1 January 2020, all commercial applicators of fertilizer within the incorporated area of Leesburg, shall abide by and successfully complete training and continuing education requirements in the "Florida Friendly Best Management Practices for Protection of Water Resources by the Green Industries''. offered by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection through the University of Florida IFAS "Florida

Friendly Landscapes" program, or an approved equivalent program. Such proof of training shall be required prior to obtaining a Leesburg Local Business Tax Certificate for any category of occupation which may apply any fertilizer to turf and/or landscape plants. Commercial Fertilizer Applicators shall provide proof of completion of the program to the Leesburg Tax Collector's office within 180 days of the effective date of this ordinance

(b) After 31 December, 2019, all commercial applicators of fertilizer within the incorporated area of Leesburg, shall have and carry in their possession at all times when applying fertilizer, evidence of certification by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services as a Commercial Fertilizer Applicator per SE- 14.117(18) F.A.C.

(c)  All businesses applying fertilizer to turf and/or landscape plants (including but not limited to residential lawns, golf courses, commercial properties, and multi-family and condominium properties) must ensure that at least one employee has a "Florida­ Friendly Best Management Practices for Protection of Water Resources by the Green Industries" training certificate prior to the business owner obtaining a Local Business Tax Certificate. Owners for any category of occupation which may apply any fertilizer to Turf and / or Landscape Plants shall provide proof of completion of the program to the Leesburg Tax Collector's Office.

 14. ENFORCEMENT 

This Ordinance shall be enforced in the manner provided in Division 2 of the Leesburg Code of Ordinances, either by the Special Master, or through the citation process as a Class III Violation. Funds generated by penalties imposed under this section shall be used by Leesburg for the administration and enforcement of section 403.9337, Florida Statutes, and the corresponding sections of this ordinance, and to further water conservation and nonpoint pollution prevention activities.

15. REPEAL OF CONFLICTING ORDINANCES 

All ordinances or part of ordinances which are in conflict ·with this Ordinance are hereby repealed, to the extent necessary to alleviate the conflict, but shall continue in effect insofar as they are not in conflict herewith, unless repeal of the conflicting portion destroys the overall intent and effect of any of the conflicting ordinance, in which case those ordinances so affected shall be hereby repealed in their entirety.

16.  SEVERABILITY 

If any portion of this Ordinance is declared invalid or unenforceable, and to the extent that it is possible to do so without destroying the overall intent and effect of this Ordinance, the portion deemed invalid or unenforceable shall be severed here from and the remainder of the  ordinance shall continue in full force and effect as if it were enacted without including the portion found to be invalid or unenforceable.

17.  EFFECTIVE DATE

This Ordinance shall become effective upon its passage and adoption according to law.

PASSED AND ADOPTED at the regular meeting of the CityCommission of the City of Leesburg, Florida, held on the 28th day of October 2019.

 

                                   City Clerk and Mayor Signature