Palm Beach Town Council to consider new regulations on artificial turf

Following months of discussion, new regulations on the use of artificial turf within the town will be considered by the Town Council at its meeting Tuesday at Town Hall.

Council members will vote on first reading to include language in Chapter 66 of the Town Code of Ordinances that addresses the definition of artificial turf, allowed locations, the formal review and approval process, installation standards and lead content.

If approved, the ordinance would define artificial turf as “a product manufactured from synthetic materials that simulates the appearance of natural turf, grass, sod or lawn,” according to town documents.

More: Officials look to tighten rules on use of artificial turf

It also limits installation of artificial turf to rear and side yards or as a driveway accent in the front yard; and sets minimum standards that include approval from the Architectural Review Commission or Landmarks Preservation Commission for turf installation, and the requirement that artificial turf material must be lead-free.

Additionally, all artificial turf installation requires a building permit.

The changes were made in response to growing concerns about the effects of artificial turf on the environment.

The town’s Ordinances, Rules and Standards Committee at its May 20 meeting asked town staff to draft an ordinance for the council to consider that would more strictly regulate the use of artificial turf.

Concerns about synthetic turf were brought up last year by council member Bobbie Lindsay, who compared it to “a plastic rug” that can reach temperatures of up to 200 degrees in the summer and release harmful compounds into the water over time.

Artificial turf also requires fossil fuels to manufacture, and contains chemicals such as acetone, arsenic and benzene, some of which have proven carcinogenic, Lindsay said.

The ORS committee had planned to address the matter last year, but meetings were suspended because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Artificial turf is preferred by landscapers and homeowners because it doesn’t require water, fertilizers or pesticides, and it looks better than natural grass. The material typically has to be sanitized with biocides to prevent health risks from animal drops and bacteria.

Deputy Town Manager Jay Boodheshwar said the use of turf is not banned in Palm Beach like it is in other South Florida cities, but the town doesn’t permit it to be counted toward the minimum requirement for landscape open space, which is typically 45% of the lot.

Also on Tuesday, the Town Council wants:

• Discuss the format for October’s town board and committee meetings, which have been held virtually for the past two months amid a surge in COVID-19 cases. Council members also will consider extending a local state of emergency to Nov. 9.

• Hear a presentation from Supervisor of Elections Wendy Sartory Link on upcoming elections and Senate Bill 90, which revises specific sections of Florida’s Election Code that affect voters and voting access.

• Discuss modified outdoor seating regulations for restaurants and the new Outdoor Café Permit program, which took effect Sept. 11.

• Consider a request from organizers of the Palm Beach Navy SEAL Evening of Tribute to approve a helicopter flyover staging area as part of the April 6 event at The Breakers.

Council members will meet at 9:30 am

To join Tuesday’s meeting, go to or phone 929-436-2866, Webinar ID: 886 2329 6973.

Jodie Wagner is a USA TODAY Network of Florida journalist. You can reach her at Help support our journalism. Subscribe today.


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