Barrington plastic bag ban moves ahead

Barrington Town Hall, Barrington, Rhode Island

Barrington Town Hall, Barrington, Rhode Island

The Barrington Town Council introduced a plastic bag ban ordinance last week though two members of the group are concerned with the proposal.

Town councilor Jeff Brenner said the ordinance put before the council doesn’t capture the full extent of recent discussion on the issue, and added that he didn’t intend to vote in favor of introducing the ordinance, which was drafted by the town’s legal counsel.

Town councilor Bill DeWitt concurred. He said there is more to consider with the matter, and the ordinance as written “anchors” the town in a single, narrow place, as opposed to continuing a broader discussion.

The ordinance states its intent is to “improve the environment in Rhode Island and the health, safety and welfare of its resident[s] by encouraging the use of reusable checkout bags and banning the use of single-use plastic bags for retail checkout of goods.” The ordinance further states retail establishments are encouraged to make reusable bags available for sale.

Bags that are prohibited under the proposal include “any plastic checkout bags at the point-of-sale,” though the ordinance does allow for plastic barrier bags used for transporting fruit, nuts, grains or other items along with double opening plastic bags used for protecting clothing or other items during transport.

Enforcement of the ordinance would fall to the Barrington Police Department or any other town department or division designated by the town manager.

A first violation would result in written notice followed by a $150 fine for any violation that occurs within one year. A third violation within one year of a second or any subsequent violation would carry a penalty of $300.

In response to Mr. Brenner, town council president June Speakman said shooting the matter down at the introduction denies the public a chance to discuss the issue. She also said introductions are not typically used as a way of defeating a bill and the public hearing provides a chance for proposing amendments or raising concerns.

In the end, Mr. Brenner decided to support the introduction as did Ms. Speakman. Town councilors Kate Weymouth and Cindy Coyne also voted in favor. Mr. DeWitt cast the sole vote in opposition.

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