The Town Council approved changes to the Bring Your Own Bag ordinance on Tuesday, which bans stores from handing out single-use plastic bags, but the changes will not take effect right away.
The changes came about after some stores began using plastic bags that complied with the rules of initial BYOB Ordinance, but the bags did not meet the goals of the people who first proposed the rules, said Councilor Ken Woodland.
“The Bring Your Own Bag Ordinance originally allowed reusable bags by their thickness, but some were skirting the intent of the Ordinance,” Woodland said.
The original ordinance allowed plastic bags that are 4 mils or thicker, but the changes remove that allowance, and adds a definition of reusable bags. The new ordinance reads that it must be “sewn bags with stitched handles designed for multiple use.” It should also be washable and made of natural fibers, or is made from non-toxic plastic material “other than polyethylene or polyvinyl chloride,” and is more than 5 mils thick.
While the stores using the plastic bags were not in the spirit of the Ordinance, Councilor Susan Falkoff said that she does not think they did something wrong.
“It was not done to skirt the ordinance but in response to resistance from customers,” Falkoff said.
She added, however, that if there are national chains that have been using the thicker plastic bags they should be able to change to new bags quickly.
Anthony Donato, who chairs the Rules & Ordinances subcommittee, said that the rules should not put into place immediately. He suggested the ordinance take into effect on March 1, 2019.
“After the second subcommittee meeting Mr. (Director of Community Development and Planning Steve) Magoon had one request that there be a moratorium so his department had a chance to let the public know about the changes,” Donato said.
Only two or three stores were found to be giving out plastic bags, said Councilor Tony Palomba. He said that he thought that the stores should be able to adjust sooner than six months. He suggested they take effect on Jan. 1, 2019.
Magoon said that there is no “magic” to a six month delay, but that his staff needs some time.
“If it takes effect immediately you would expect my staff to be out (Wednesday) talking to stores about the changes,” Magoon said. “We need reasonable time.”
The Town Council approved the change unanimously, 9-0, with the changes taking effect March 1, 2019.
While the changes won’t take effect for six months, Donato said that the original ordinance will remain in effect.
“It seems like it wasn’t passed that long ago, but there was a loophole that was noticed and the Council was responsive,” Donato said.