Franklin rejects further ordinance discussion on artificial turf

By: Mary Genson | Birmingham-Bloomfield Eagle | Published June 27, 2024

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FRANKLIN — At a recent Franklin Village Council meeting, a new business item was brought to the council: consideration of an ordinance that would restrict residents from using plastic and other non-living plant material in their landscaping. However, when it came to vote on whether the topic would be brought back to council for an official first reading at a future meeting, it did not pass.

The topic initially arose when a resident wanted to apply artificial turf to her yard to install a soccer field.

During a public hearing on the matter March 20, resident Cat Phillips thanked the Planning Commission for their efforts in protecting the groundwater.

Franklin Village Council member Kathy Erlich also shared during the public hearing that she recently read an article that showed blood vessels that were found to have plastic in them during an autopsy.

At the May 13 meeting, Council member David Goldberg inquired about how prolific this topic is in the community. He spoke on the idea that one of the main concerns when it comes to turf is the rubber particles that come with it. However, he said that he has observed that not all artificial turf uses these. He said he has seen residences that have small sections of plastic turf on top of the soil, with no rubber particles.

Planning Commission Chair Stuart Wooters responded by saying that the breakdown of the materials is the biggest concern, since ultraviolet light can break down materials over time, and the materials migrate into the soil.

“I need to get a little better understanding of what the long term actual proof that just having a little 15 foot square section of plastic grass in your backyard is going to (affect) the drinking water in the city of the village of Franklin when we might have a couple 1,000 square feet of it total,” Goldberg said during the Franklin Village Council meeting.

Council member Pam Hansen added to the discussion.

“A 15-foot-square piece of plastic grass probably isn’t going to ruin the world or Franklin, but along with other behaviors and actions that we advocate — you know, we protect our trees, we look for natural native plants. That’s what we did in the streets. We do little things like that — all act on what we said is important.”

During a roll call vote, Council President Bill Lamott and council members Erlich and Hansen were in favor, and council members Goldberg, David Sahli and Michael Seltzer were opposed. The 3-3 vote means the measure did not pass.