The homeowners association for Society Hill at Bernards I off Valley Road reportedly has decided to reduce its use of lawn chemicals on the shared property with about 440 condos and townhouses, a move lauded by a resident who spearheaded efforts to cut back on use of pesticides and weedkillers.
The president of the homeowners association last week announced that the common property for residents in the multi-family housing complex will begin using an Integrated Pest Management approach for its lawn care, Tom Stiff, treasurer for the association, said on Monday morning.
"We haven't put a definition yet on what that is," Stiff said of the IPM approach. However, he said the end result is that there are no more plans for blanket pesticide applications at Society Hill at Bernards I through the remainder of this year.
"We are probably going with an organic fertilizer at the end of this year," Stiff said, although he added it is too early to say for sure.
Stiff said that the association is leaning toward the state Department of Environmental Protection agency's guidelines.
That definition, although specifically discussing management of school properties, says, "The goal of IPM is to deliver effective pest control while at the same time reducing risks associated with pesticide use. IPM is a process for achieving long term, environmentally sound pest control through the use of a wide variety of technological and management practices."
Stiff said it is his understanding that the IPM approach would mean that the landscaper hired to manage the complex's lawn care would look for problems with bugs such as grubs or weeds, and treat those problems selectively. That is an alternative approach to scheduling applications of chemicals over an entire property.
Reporting his understanding from last Wednesday's meeting, Stiff said treatments would be elevated if the problems persisted.
Stiff said the association will seek proposals from varying landscapers to implement the program. A proposal can be expected from the current landscaper, LMS of Princeton, which already has outlined alternative options for lawn care at a previous association meeting, said Stiff and Bev Petrallia, the resident who has called for an alternative approach.
Stiff said the association also will contact the management for Society Hill at Bernards II for a potential proposal from that section of the complex's landscaper. Society Hill at Bernards II has had an IPM program in place for a number of years, said Stiff and others.
On Monday, Petrallia called last Wednesday's association meeting "productive."
Stiff said Petrallia had thanked the association president, Bruce Stonely, following the announcement last week.
Stonely was unavailable for comment on Sunday night or Monday morning.
Petrallia had said that Society Hill I had previously had an approach to lawn care that used fewer, and more organic, treatments. Stiff on Monday said that in looking at association minutes from the last four or five years, he had only found mention that the association was intending to move toward IPM, rather than definitive approval.
About 20 residents concerned about the effects of lawn chemicals, particularly some of the brands being used, had approached both the association and the Bernards Township Committee in late June. At that time, Mayor Mary Pavlini asked if the residents had approached the homeowners association.
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