Residents hold meeting to discuss possible vegetation legislation

DECATUR, Tenn. (WDEF) – Residents met Thursday evening to discuss possible ramifications of vegetation legislation.

Zach Andrews has co-owned Cottonport Marina since 2012. Like most owners, he does what he has to do to keep his business running. And, for him that means spending money to spray herbicide on milfoil vegetation that grows in the water.

“We get a lot of boat traffic. That’s actually probably our biggest source of income is the boat traffic and if we don’t get it under control or we let it get out of control our gas dock is not accessible, because the milfoil grows up around it as well,” Andrews said.

Many residents also pay to spray the vegetation.

It’s that method of controlling the invasive plants that brought people to the marina Thursday night.

They wanted to get their voices heard on possible tightened vegetation legislation in a meeting.

“We’re trying to get to where we can keep our rivers clean. We’re paying higher taxes. So, that’s kind of the big part of it. We’re wanting to get it to where, you know, it’s fair for everybody,” Andrews said.

State Senator Mike Bell, (R) Riceville, spoke at the meeting.

He is looking at putting together legislation that he said will fill in gaps in current regulation.

“Currently, they are allowed to hire a state certified, licensed applicator to come in and kill the weeds around their property. One of the gaps I see in the current regulation, also allows the killing beyond any property rights,” State Sen. Bell said.

State Sen. Bell said he has not drafted legislation, but as of now is looking at three goals it could accomplish.

That’s establish boundaries where herbicide can be sprayed, possibly 100 feet from the shoreline; establish a notification process for when it’s sprayed, and establish a permit process to spray outside of boundaries.

“When you’re talking about out on the lake in an area that’s not associated with any property rights, you have competing interests, you have the interests of somebody who may want to clear a slough to swim in versus an interest of a bass fisherman who may want to leave the weeds, because of the increased opportunities to bass fish in that area,” State Sen. Bell said.

As for Andrews, he’s concerned that adding more rules will eventually lead to not being able to spray at all, which would hurt his business.

However, State Sen. Bell said that he feels spraying is safe and that he doesn’t see any move to ban its use.

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