TRAVERSE CITY — Coal tar sealants are out for Traverse City-owned pavement, and could be soon for city residents and business owners.

City commissioners on Monday approved a resolution stating the city won’t use the product containing the coal derivative on its pavement.

Commissioner Richard Lewis noted that city Manager Marty Colburn could have barred any use of coal tar sealants by the Department of Public Service.

“We’re putting the community on notice that this is what we expect,” he said. “We think it’s harmful to the environment and we would like to address it.”

Coal tar sealants can impact water quality through storm runoff, according to the resolution commissioners adopted 6-0 — Tim Werner was absent. Not using them serves to protect the streams, rivers and lakes in and around the city.

Commissioners also asked city Attorney Lauren Trible-Laucht to draft an ordinance banning its use by anyone within city limits by their Aug. 19 meeting.

The idea for now is to require commercial applicators to register once with the city and agree not to use coal tar sealants, commissioners agreed.

Trible-Laucht said public education is key should commissioners approve the ban, as both businesses applying sealants and residents would need to know the product isn’t allowed.

Addressing coal tar sealants is one recommendation from an ad hoc committee tasked with considering a storm-water utility for Traverse City, Lewis said — a formalized method of assessing fees for property owners’ impacts on the city’s storm-water system.

Lewis, who led the committee, said its members recommended holding off on establishing a utility for now, but suggested changes to existing city ordinances setting requirements for how storm water is handled. Commissioners will introduce those changes on Aug. 19 for possible later enactment.


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