Just a few minutes ago, the Lewisville City Council voted 3-1 in favor of allowing aerial pesticide spraying over the city to fight mosquitoes carrying the West Nile virus.
About 25 people attended the Council meeting tonight, with three citizens speaking against the spraying, and one for. Councilmembers also heard from Bing Burton, Denton County Health Department Director, who urged the Council to approve the spraying. Six residents turned in cards in opposition to the spraying, and eight turned in cards supporting the spraying.
In an interesting twist, it was Councilman John Gorena who cast the one dissenting vote against the spraying, expressing his concern for the ecology, and what unforeseen consequences it may carry. Gorena referred to Vietnam-war-era Agent Orange, which was a pesticide thought to be safe at the time, but later caused health issues with veterans.
Mayor Pro Tem Rudy Durham was in favor of the spraying. Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Leroy Vaughn expressed some reservations about impacts on animals, but said that after reviewing the literature, he thought that the small quantities used would have minimal impact, and because of his concern for elderly residents, most susceptible to the virus.
Councilman Neil Ferguson said that he thought the spraying would be a waste of time and money, and that he personally didn't want to do it, but that he had heard from a number of citizens - especially the elderly, and they were in favor of it. Ferguson said he knew that there would be times where he would have to go against his personal thoughts to do the will of the voters, and that this was one of them. Had Ferguson voted against the resolution, it would have resulted in a tie, since Councilman T.J. Gilmore was on a scheduled absence for the meeting. Mayor Dean Ueckert was in favor of the spraying, and would have cast the tie-breaking vote.
Lewisville resident Jennifer Whitaker, a chemist and aquatic toxicology expert gave the Council a presentation, outlining her objections to the spraying. Afterwards, Whitaker said she was disappointed, and that she thought the councilmembers had their minds made up. "I could tell that they had already made up their minds and that the public hearing was merely a formality," said Whittaker. "There are always unforeseen consequences when we change the natural flow of things, the question is how harsh the consequence will be."