AUGUSTA — Following two years of study, debate, and weed growth, a new city herbicide ordinance is scheduled for a final vote on Thursday.

Councilors meet for the second reading and likely vote at 7 p.m. in council chambers at Augusta City Center.

The ordinance and associated policy allow residents to opt out of the city’s policy to spray weed-killing chemicals on the sidewalk by their properties, but only if they agree to remove any plants from the sidewalk in front of their homes.

If residents opt out but then don’t follow through with weed removal, the city would have a worker come remove the weeds — likely with a weed-whacker — and the resident would be billed for the cost.

A committee studied the issue at length after residents expressed concern about the health effects the plant-killing chemicals could have on them, their children and their pets.

For the last two years, the city suspended its program of spraying herbicides on residential neighborhood sidewalks, but continued spraying along major city thoroughfares.

City Manager William Bridgeo said the results were telling. Sidewalks that weren’t sprayed had much more plant growth than those that were, with some weeds growing up through sidewalks and causing cracks. Officials said that allowed water to enter and freeze, in turn causing the pavement to break up.

The proposed new herbicide rules drew no comments from the public at the first of two required readings held by the City Council on Feb. 16.

Councilors on Thursday are also scheduled to hold a public hearing and consider designating the Augusta Civic Center as the Ward 4 polling place for the June 12 primary election and school budget validation referendum.

The former Ward 4 polling site, St. Andrew Church, is for sale and not available for the elections.

If a committee’s recommendation to use the Civic Center is approved, Ward 4 voting would take place on the first floor of the North Wing of the city-owned building, according to Barbara Wardwell, city clerk.

The civic center is in Ward 3, and Ward 3 voters already vote there. The civic center would only be designated as Ward 4’s polling place for the June elections. A committee will study where the permanent new Ward 4 polling place will be and is expected to have a recommendation for councilors by July 31.

The June 12 election is the same date as a Riverdance performance in the center’s auditorium.

Councilors are also scheduled to meet, at the end of Thursday’s meeting, in a closed-door session to discuss labor negotiations.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

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