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Bag Ban Ordinance Gets Rocky Intro

The Town Council votes 4-1 to introduce the ordinance to ban plastic grocery bags; the vote was almost 3-2.

The Town Council introduced on Monday night the ordinance that would ban plastic grocery and takeout bags in Barrington.

But the introduction of the ordinance was not unanimous. The vote was 4-1 with Councilor Bill DeWitt casting the lone nay vote.

And Town Council Vice President Jeff Brenner almost made the vote 3-2. He said he simply could not vote for the ordinance as drafted because he believes there are many questions that still need answers.

Brenner was persuaded, however, by Council President June Speakman that a public hearing on the ordinance in October is the appropriate place to discuss differences of opinion and to get answers to questions and allow additional public input.

The ordinance bans plastic bags “to improve the environment in Barrington and the health, safety and welfare of its residents by encouraging the use of reusable checkout bags.”

It encourages retailers to offer for sale reusable bags. It does not suggest a price per bag.

The ordinance would be enforced by the police department or any other department or division designated by the town manager. It includes fines of up to $300 per violation.

A potential violation would be investigated and followed up with a written notice to the owner or manager of the retail establishment.  The notice would either be served to the owner or manager in person or by posting it in a conspicuous place of the store and sending a copy to the owner or manager.

A retail store’s owner or manager would have to respond in writing within 14 days that the violation has ended.

A second violation after the 14-day response period and within one year of the response from the retailer would lead to a $150 fine. A third violation within a year of the second and any subsequent violations would lead to a $300 fine.

A retail store owner or manager could appeal the violation in writing to the town manager within 14 days of receiving the notice of violation. The town manager could waive the violation on a “showing of good cause or undue hardship.” Good cause or undue hardship are not defined.

The draft ordinance does include six other definitions: retail sales establishment, checkout bag, plastic barrier bag, double-opening plastic bags, recyclable paper bag, and reusable bag.

Lorraine F September 11, 2012 at 01:09 PM
Is Councilor Dewitt the only member with any scruples??? This council seems to believe babysitting residents (most of whom are college educated) is their sworn duty. Folks, this is not Central Falls.
Jean C. MacCorison September 11, 2012 at 03:39 PM
If, indeed, the proposed ordinance really expects the banning of plastic bags will "improve...the health, safety and welfare of ...residents by encouraging the use of reusable checkout bags", the author or council members should explain in detail what these supposed benefits are. I and others have already commented on aspects of using fabric bags that can be detrimental to health.
Dave Bonney September 11, 2012 at 05:53 PM
I am not in favor of this ordinance. We have always recycled plastic bags as has Shaws as long back as I remember. THe plastic bags are handy for dog duty and various other uses around the house. If they end up in a landfill - how are they any more harmful than the bag I put my garbage out in ? Though I see a lot of trash around town - usually riding my bike - I rarely see plastic bags. I will not use a re-usuable bag for meats or cleaning products. What about ice purchased in plastic bags ? If I bring my own plastic bags to Shaws - can I be fined ? Can Shaws be fined ? It seems like we have bigger and more "real" problems to address than what is - from I can see - an ill conceived and symbolic effort. If we had direct democracy in Barrington - would this pass ?
Gary Morse September 11, 2012 at 07:08 PM
Last night's vote points to Barrington having a plastic bag ban. Councilors Speakman, Weymouth, and Coyne were quick to favor the ordinance and thus further debate seems irrelevant. Democracy is after all two wolves and a sheep deciding what to have for dinner. (B Franklin) Thus the question: Can a new common sense council overturn the plastic bag ban, along with chicken coops, snow shoveling of town owned land, tax subsidies for affordable rental properties, the affordable housing ordinances, a municipal court taxpayers will have to subsidize, future fines to support the municipal court, etc, etc. November is just around the corner.
Pam September 12, 2012 at 11:34 AM
Another point to consider is that this ban will make Barrington even less business friendly. Not only might it hurt the businesses already in town, it may further discourage new businesses from coming here. I will reiterate what garymm said, "November is just around the corner." And, I will add that Councilors Speakman and Weymouth are up for reelection.
nan September 12, 2012 at 01:38 PM
Private commercial incentives are preferable to town laws. CVS gives $1 back on every 4 visits you use your own bag. Shaws leaves the recycle bin by the entrance - just grab bags as you enter. Do you really want to the town to get into fining and investigating plastic bag use? Don't we have better things to do with our town's time and money?
John Baron September 12, 2012 at 04:25 PM
Again all you conservationists, if your concern is improving the health and welfare of Barrington residents why aren't you concerned with Starbucks? They do NOT recycle ANY of the hundreds of gallons of milk and cartons of liquids that they go through on a daily basis. I am not sure how this continues to go unchecked. I know that students have approached them to see if they would be able to recycle for Starbucks, Starbucks refused. If town council wants to babysit why not start at Starbucks? Not to mention all of the plastic to go cups?
John Baron September 12, 2012 at 04:26 PM
Also, having our recycling center open at least 6 of the 7 days a week would make it much easier to recycle. The reduced hours are ridiculous.
Manifold Witness September 14, 2012 at 11:05 AM
“A machine that converts waste plastic into crude oil is operating at a recycling depot in Whitehorse (Yukon). The machine is the first of its kind in North America.” http://ca.news.yahoo.com/whitehorse-gets-machine-convert-plastic-oil-000826769.html

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