Barrington town council votes on plastic bag ordinance

BARRINGTON'S TOWN COUNCIL took its first step toward banning one-time use plastic bags at a meeting Monday night.
Posted 7/31/12

BARRINGTON - Barrington’s town council took its first step towards banning one-time use plastic bags at a meeting Monday night.

The council voted 3-2 to draft an ordinance, as recommended by the Barrington Conservation Commission in May, that bans retailers from using checkout plastic bags, encourages the use of reusable bags and fines violators of the ban.

Town Solicitor Michael Ursillo confirmed the legality of the proposed plastic bag ban last week, based on a review of the R.I. Constitution and similar ordinances passed across the country.

Now that the initiative has garnered three votes, Ursillo is tasked with writing a city ordinance which will then be formally introduced at the Town Council meeting on Sept. 10, followed by a public hearing and a vote.

June Speakman, president of the five-member Town Council, told Providence Business News that the Council needs more time to discuss the specific application of the ordinance before the next meeting. She believes the crowded meeting agenda prevented the council from hearing enough information. To amend the situation, the Town Council will be holding a workshop by the end of the month.

“We need more time to talk about how we want to approach this,” Speakman said. “Though we voted to instruct the Solicitor, we need to talk about what specifically should be included and also more fully address the needs of the opponents.”

Speakman said the council has heard from many local businesses in support of the ban, through a petition organized by Environment R.I. with more than 300 signatures, but no word yet from big companies like Shaw’s Supermarket, RiteAid or CVS.

Councilors Jeff Brenner, Kate Weymouth and Speakman voted in favor of the motion made by Weymouth to draft the ordinance. Councilors Bill DeWitt and Cynthia Coyne voted against the motion because they favor more discussion before drafting an ordinance.

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