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Christmas Tree Sale Ban Gets a Hearing--In February

Looks like it'll take until 2009 to get to the bottom of why it's illegal to sell a Christmas tree in Montgomery County prior to Dec. 5.

At the request of County Executive Ike Leggett (D) the council voted unanimously today to hold a public hearing on the matter on Feb. 3 so it's likely officials may have some answers by then.
Turns out Montgomery is not alone: a similar law also exists in Rockville, though city officials can't quite explain its origin either.

The little know section of code came to light earlier this month after an anonymous tipster called to report that North Bethesda United Methodist was selling Christmas trees almost a week before they were legally permitted. A county inspector sent out to investigate shut down the lot on Dec. 1. (for the record, a county spokesman said the inspector has nothing against Christmas). On Dec. 4, county officials allowed the church to re-open its lot.

While many think the ban is absurd (Really, is there a market for Christmas trees in July?) there are some in the community who like the ban just as it is, thankyouverymuch.

Council member Roger Berliner's office received some correspondence this week on the matter, urging him to rethink his pledge to repeal the ban. A resident of Chevy Chase emailed that two commercial lots not far from her home on DeRussey Parkway pose traffic hazards and make it difficult for residents of Norwood and Davidson drives, not to mention those traveling south on Wisconsin Avenue.

Jim Bodner, who also wrote to the Post, cited safety as his main concern, noting the United State Fire Administration, recommended that trees be left up no longer than two weeks. Montgomery fire officials said while they weren't responsible for the law, they urge people to keep their trees watered and away from heat sources.

Other folks, including perhaps the anonymous tipster, will have their opportunity to express their opinion about the ban in February. Is it possible that the ban isn't so bizarre after all? Stay tuned.

--Lori Aratani

By Phyllis Jordan  |  December 9, 2008; 3:12 PM ET
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Christmas trees should be banned altogether. They are a fire hazard, cause injury and are a waste of money. Many who sell them are con-men, selling them at 1000% markup.

Posted by: fudador | December 9, 2008 9:52 PM | Report abuse

Dammit! Let's just ban Christmas. God isn't real anyway.

Or...we can just ban stupid laws designed to nitpick on every tiny detail of everyone's lives. I'm fine with whichever.

Posted by: byte1 | December 11, 2008 11:14 PM | Report abuse

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