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[whitespace] Residents push county to find solution to roadside spraying

Los Gatos--County residents upset about herbicide spraying along mountain roads near Lexington Reservoir are gearing up for another round of talks with county officials to work out a deal to end spraying.

The county started using the herbicide Garlon 4 about a year and a half ago to tame grass and weeds along Bear Creek, Soda Springs, Montevina, Summit and Black roads.

Previously, the county Roads and Airport Department sent out a mower and hand crews to do the job, but made the switch in '97 because of budget shortages. When they came back a year later to do it again, residents went into action to block the use of the herbicide, which they say is a threat to their drinking water.

The group, which calls itself GAToS, or Group Against Toxic Spraying, is made up of about 60 mountain residents. On Nov. 9, it named three members to a negotiating team that will meet with District 1 Supervisor Don Gage and Roads and Airports Director Michael Murdter Dec. 1. The meeting is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. in the 10th floor conference room in the county building at 70 W. Hedding St. in San Jose.

Bill Green, one of the three negotiators, says GAToS wants a permanent end to spraying without passing on the costs to residents in the form of an assessment district.

County officials say that spraying grass and weeds is much cheaper than sending out mowing crews, and that Garlon 4 doesn't present a health risk to nearby residents.

Green says his group will be proposing a compromise that lets residents take care of their own frontage on county roads, while county crews will mow the rest.

This spring, the residents went out and mowed the grass themselves rather than let the county spray, but residents say they're not going to go out and do it again.
Jeff Kearns

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Web extra to the November 25-December 2, 1998 issue of Metro.

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