The Price of Liberty is Eternal Vigilance

The Watch


Individual Articles

City Council, November 27

City Council, November 27

Amended plastic bag ban approved
Restoration on Battery Wall to begin early next year
Marc Knapp

Clearly, many Council members were not comfortable with the amended ordinance banning plastic bags and forms of polystyrene packaging. Some sought a deferral of a second reading vote, at least until next month to give the ordinance more consideration. The deferral vote failed and ultimately, all Council members voted for the ordinance with the exception of Council members Lewis and Mitchell. Press Download file to see Amended ordinance.

In most respects, the hearing last night was similar to that of the first hearing two weeks ago. The chamber was packed with citizens most of whom supported the ban with only three opposed. Those opposed noted that the items banned were only a small part of the plastic produced and that the ban would have relatively little environmental impact particularly as Asia and Africa were far more significant contributors to the pollution in oceans. Those who favored the ban noted the proliferation of plastic bags and and other items such as straws and polystyrene in waterways, marshes and the ocean. Also noted was the implementation of similar bans in most of the municipalities surrounding the City.

Council members debated the issue and the arguments were largely the same as the last hearing. Council members Mitchell and Lewis were opposed to the ordinance and feared the adverse impact on both retailers and low income citizens. Council members White and Moody were conspicuously uneasy about the ordinance. They saw the pollution of plastic as largely a litter problem and to be solved through enforcement and tightening of litter laws. Staff said that the ordinance relating to litter was separate and stricter enforcement should be addressed separately from the plastic bag ban.

Staff noted the amendments that had been made to the ordinance after the first reading. They related to clarification, education and exemptions. The major changes were;

  • Reusable plastic bags were exempt from the ban if the the plastic had a thickness oo 4 mm as opposed to 2.25 mm in the original ordinance.
  • Products purchased, prepared or packaged outside the City and sold in the City were exempt from the ban in the original ordinance. They are banned in the amended ordinance.
  • Request for exemptions must go before the Director of Public Service, and an appeal to the the Public Works and Utilities Committee. In the original ordinance, exemptions were to be granted by the Resilience and Sustainability Committee with appeals to the City Council.

Council also agreed last night that the ban should become effective and enforceable on January 1 2020.

As I reminded Council, some 40 years or so ago, the conventional wisdom was to stop cutting down trees to make paper products and to turn to plastics. Now it's the other way round. Let's hope we have it right this time.

Tax Increment Financing (TIF) for drainage improvements in the Church Creek are received final approval last night. As required by law, it had to be approved by the County and the School District. The County gave its approval at a meeting earlier this month but the School District declined. The City will still move ahead with the TIF and the Mayor projected annual revenue of about $1.5 million a year within 5 years, and $2.4 million a year after 10 years. With the higher revenue, the City will probably issue bonds to apply to drainage issues in the Church Creek area, using the TIF funds for interest and amortization.

Work on restoration of the Battery wall should begin early next year. The whole project is expected to cost about $50 million. The first phase, from the Coast Guard area to White Point Gardens is projected to cost about $9 million. The Mayor noted that the area chosen for immediate restoration was that needing the more urgent attention. It was also the easiest to restore. He added that the experience gained in this restoration should be a help in addressing work on the rest of the Battery wall .

Your Comments:
Post a Comment:
Your Info:
Remember personal info?