Plastic bags banned

For retail checkout of goods
Fri, 11/17/2017 - 9:00am

“The island is a trailblazer,” said resident Naomi Kerest. “I don’t know how we can’t make this decision an easy one. This is a no-brainer.”  

Shortly after Kerest made those remarks at Town Hall on Wednesday night, the New Shoreham Town Council voted unanimously (4-0) to approve the banning of single-use plastic bags for retail checkout of goods on Block Island, with Councilor Chris Willi absent. About 40 people, including members of the Planning Board, and Town Planner Alison Ring, packed into the chamber at Town Hall to hear the Town Council discuss the topic.

Councilor Martha Ball made the motion, which was seconded by Councilor André Boudreau. The ban will be added to the town’s Health and Sanitation ordinance and go into effect on Jan. 1, 2018. The public hearing on the item lasted half an hour with several community members weighing in on the discussion.  

In making the decision, the Town Council followed the lead of the Planning Board, which spent the past 13 months researching the banning of single-use plastic bags in other communities. 

The Planning Board and Ring sent a memo dated Nov. 8 to the Town Council noting penalties and enforcement policy. The memo states that Barrington, Newport, Jamestown, and Middletown have instituted bans on single-use plastic bags.

First Warden Ken Lacoste told The Block Island Times that the ban would include penalties similar to those enforced in Barrington, Middletown, and Jamestown. The fines for violating the ordinance in those towns call for a 14-day notice of violation for a first offense, followed by a $150 fine for the first violation, and a $300 fine for subsequent violations.

Per the Planning Board’s memo, the ordinance will be enforced by the New Shoreham Police Department, or any other town department that is designated by the Town Manager.