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Council to Weigh Grocery-Bag Ban

The Barrington Town Council will hear a proposal tonight to ban plastic grocery bags; senior beach-pass fee repeal also on agenda; zoning map hearing scheduled.

The Town Council will be asked tonight, July 30, at its mid-summer meeting to make Barrington the first town in New England to ban plastic grocery bags.

The councilors also will be asked to repeal the $10 Barrington Beach pass fee for senior citizens.

And they will hold a public hearing on Planning Board-recommended amendments to the town’s zoning maps, including a new type of zoning.

The councilors also will approve salaries for all non-union workers, including all department heads, about one month into the new fiscal year.

The meeting starts at 7 pm in the Council Chamber in Town Hall.

The plastic bag-ban proposal will be presented by its originator, Joshua Roberts, a member of the Barrington Conservation Commission, which has endorsed the proposal. See previous Patch story.

Roberts got some additional support for his proposed ban last week from Environment Rhode Island, an advocacy organization. The group presented a letter signed by 14 Barrington businesses and petitions shaped into reusable bags that were signed by 340 Barrington residents to Town Council President June Speakman and Town Manager Peter DeAngelis Jr.

The letter said, in part: “We are writing to express our support for a ban on single-use plastic checkout bags here in Barrington…Barrington and Rhode Island can be leaders for the environment and Narragansett Bay by getting rid of plastic bags.”

Roberts, a political science professor at Roger Williams University, wrote up the proposal as an academic “white paper.”

“Recycling simply does not work,” said Roberts. “Recycling is not yet a viable option for the safe, effective disposal of these items. To that end, the most effective way to limit the problem in the environment is to reduce usage by eliminating the bags from the supply chain.”

Key elements of the proposed ordinance:

  • No retail store would be allowed to use the plastic bags at checkouts.
  • Retail stores should make reusable bags available for purchase.
  • Retail stores would be allowed to charge up to 5 cents per reusable bag.

Fines for violators would put some teeth into the ordinance. A first violation by a retail store would result in a $150 fine. A second violation within a year would be $300. A third violation would be a $750 fine.

Susan Tucker of Barrington has been opposed to the beach-pass fee for seniors since it was put into place by the Town Council last spring at the same time the Parks and Recreation Commission asked to boost the previous $20 beach pass fee for everyone else to $30.

Tucker will present a petition to the councilors with more than 50 names on it asking for a repeal of the fee.

The zoning map amendments would change the zoning for a package of properties in 15 areas. It also would introduce a new type of zoning: Conservation Development for the Nockum Hill area of Barrington.

Its goal is to protect at least 50 percent of a parcel of land as open space at no cost to a town, which in many instances is the only way to preserve land. See previous Patch story.

For the complete list of properties to be rezoned, click here and then click on Zoning Map Amendments to see a PDF.

The salaries for non-union workers were tabled early this month when Town Councilor Bill DeWitt asked the town manager to present a more complete picture of all salaries and benefits paid to these employees at tonight’s meeting. See Patch story on the proposed ordinance that sets the salaries.

Manifold Witness July 30, 2012 at 11:26 AM
BCWA - For July 30, 2012 Barrington Town Council meeting, from Barrington Town Solicitor Michael Ursillo: Excerpt from June 13, 2012 (for May 2012) explanation for billings- “Bristol County Water Authority - Attention to follow up on Bristol County Water Authority matters, follow up teleconferences with L. James and L. Cirillo and drafting and revision of proposed language of letter to legislators; Follow up on review of draft enabling legislation and draft ordinance amendments, including communication with municipal clerks; Conference with Attorney P. Zarella regarding issues of drafting amendments; Multiple conferences and research regarding same; Conference with Attorney P. Zarella; Conference with J. Speakman regarding Bristol County Water Authority; Conference with Representative Galison and Senator Felag and Attorney Zarella as to status of legislation; Conference with J. Speakman and P. DeAngelis regarding same; Follow up with legislative counsel as to status of amendment.” Excerpt from July 24, 2012 (for June 2012) explanation for billings- Bristol County Water Authority – Follow up on enabling legislation; Review legal services RFP for Bristol County Water Authority; Conferences with A. Klepper regarding same; Extended conference with A. Klepper regarding RFP for legal services. Are Barrington taxpayers paying 100% for these items?
Steve Bonniol July 30, 2012 at 04:13 PM
If Barrington passes this ridiculous law, I believe it will be the final nail in the coffin for Barrington retailers, including "Barrington-priced Shaw's supermarket. I refuse to shop where I have to buy my own bags, ecology or not. This will increase prices and decrease sales! Barrington town council needs to get there heads out of the clouds and handle some REAL ISSUES.
Barrington Native July 30, 2012 at 05:16 PM
If Barrington thinks this policy through carefully, it could put the town up in the ranks of Washington DC's successful progam. Retailers charge customers $.05 a bag and the bag fee revenue is used for other environmental programs. http://www.treehugger.com/corporate-responsibility/plastic-bags-used-in-dc-drop-from-22-million-to-3-million-a-month.html
Gary Morse July 30, 2012 at 07:10 PM
In the same night we are debating the ecological impact of plastic bags, we are debating the goodness of expanding Barrington's carbon footprint with affordable housing tax incentives. The town Planning Board thinks calling Nockum Hill "R-40 Conservation Development" will lessen the impact to the natural habitat of an endangered species. Lesson: We need to rename those plastic bags.
Gary Morse July 30, 2012 at 07:19 PM
I trust the Conservation Commission will get the irony of this!
susancatherine July 30, 2012 at 08:44 PM
I haven't used a plastice bag in two years. I feel pretty darn good about it. All I can say is it's hard to make changes and climb on board the same train; we are all responsible for what choices we make and when many people make good ones, the results are outstanding and something to feel really good about. Aldi's in Rumford doesn't use bags and their prices are the cheapest around- Barrington can evolve too. You bring your own or pay for the plastic ones or get a paper one for free. I think it's a fabulous idea and we should back it! I already have been but I do hope others will make that small personal step which has huge results.
Ella July 30, 2012 at 09:15 PM
The Town should not be involved in dictating whether or not businesses can use plastic bags. At this point all customers have the right to bring their own canvas or paper bag if they are opposed to plastic so it is in reality a non-issue.
Manifold Witness July 30, 2012 at 09:26 PM
Affordable Housing/Housing Board- From Ursillo's June 13, 2012 report- Prepare for/attend meeting w/ Town Mgr & Affordable Housing Trust Committee Chair to discuss request for public records regarding Affordable Housing Trust; Follow up on affordable housing issues, conference re: preparation for upcoming meeting & educational presentation at same; Respond to tel calls & emails re: issue of private communications to members of Affordable Housing Committee & email from Chair to members re: same, email & teleconference w/ Chair as to same; Research re: Affordable Housing 8% tax & Comprehensive Plan public participation; Follow up regarding request for public records re:Barrington Housing; Follow up re: open records request for affordable housing & relationship to Spencer Trust; Prepare Affordable Housing Discussion for Housing Board meeting & attend meeting; Teleconference w/ Phil Hervey re:preparation for Housing Board meeting; Attention to public records request, including teleconference with Town Mgr. From 7/24/12 report- Research Affordable Housing Trust issue & Low-Moderate Inc Housing Authority & deed restrictions; Memo on Low-Moderate Inc Housing Authority & deed restrictions; research Low-Moderate Income Housing Authority regarding deed restrictions; Edit new low-moderate housing ordinance proposal; Edit proposed low-moderate inc housing ordinance; Research regarding affordable housing amendment jurisdictional issue w/ respect to George St ap. for comprehensive permit.
Mrs. B July 31, 2012 at 02:16 AM
These plastic bags are recycled and are used by the Maher Center and other Special Needs groups around the state to make strong reusuable bags which they sell to help obtain money for projects and outings for their clients. Actions have consequences people. Banning these plastic bags could lead to many problems you have yet to think about. Example: When envronmentalists decided to lobby Congress about taking a certain aerosols out of Asmatic patients' medications no one forseen that the banning of the aerosols ended up costing asmatic patients 3 times the price of the meds and also rended the medicines useless. I know because I am one of the victims THINK BEFORE YOU ACT PEOPLE!

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