In December, Ed Ehlen covered his 11,000-square-foot yard with artificial turf. The Marco Island, Fla., resident stated that the green covering is more aesthetically pleasing than grass, promotes water conservation, and doesn't require harmful pesticides or fertilizers to maintain its appeal.

Unfortunately, town officials failed to see the beauty in Ehlen's lawn. During a January meeting, the Marco Island planning board voted 5 to 1 to amend the city's landscape code to ban artificial turf. Meeting attendees spoke both in favor of and against residential use of the turf, each side citing different studies with differing conclusions. One area of concern involved tiny black pellets embedded in the turf, which are derived from automobile tires and could potentially migrate into groundwater.

Three other residents in the town have artificial lawns, allowed because they obtained certificates of residency before installation. The city council will decide whether to grandfather in Ehlen's yard if it is consistent with the town's landscape code. In addition, the planning board voted to study the turf material locally over the next three years.