ROCKLAND – Effective Jan 1, 2019, with few exceptions, retailers in Rockland are to forego providing single-use bags and Styrofoam carry-out containers to customers. The paper bag fee initially embedded in the same ordinance has been separated and postponed for further discussion.
On Monday, March 12, members of City Council voted unanimously on Chapter 14, Article I Plastic Bag/Styrofoam Container Ban and Paper Bag Fee. This ordinance generated enough opinions to prompt 23 residents and retailers to keep a line to the speaker’s podium moving for more than an hour.
And then, another hour later, at the time of actual vote, eight residents returned to that same podium to reiterate their thoughts.
“It’s always good to see a whole bunch of people come out and speak on an issue. We love to see that,” said Councilor Ed Glaser, sponsor of the ordinance. “One of the best parts of being a councilor is bringing something forward that just sort of stirs up that much conversation.... And I think almost everybody here has the same goals at heart....I think we’re all here because we have this image of where we want Rockland to go in the future. It’s really a very positive image.”
In discussing the ordinance, Glaser offered an amendment postponing a proposed paper bag fee. He stated his personal approval of the 10 cent fee. However, he also acknowledged that for many local retailers, the fee proposal happened too fast, and that a couple more months would allow businesses to digest the idea.
“I think we can probably come to a unanimous support on passing just the plastic bag ban, which is as much as some towns have done,” he said prior to that vote. “I think we can do that unanimously as a wonderful testament to Rockland. But I also think that if we give it another two months, we might be able to come up with a solution that meets the needs of most of the merchants downtown.”
Upon hearing of the proposed bag fee postponement, Councilor Adam Ackor reminded council that he was never in favor of a fee.
Councilor Amelia Magjik, on the other hand, said that removal of the fee ‘diluted the overall solution,’ and therefore voted against that particular amendment to the ordinance.
Plastic straws were omitted from the ordinance prior to this vote, though Magjik stated a desire to revisit a possible ban in the future.
The exemption to the ordinance is for the plastics and Styrofoam required for shipping meats and seafood.
Regardless of the vote, resident Kim Bernard and Rockland Main Street, Inc’s Gordan Page both expressed intention toward finding funding to provide reusable bags to low-income residents. Bernard told council that she’s sought grant sources, and Page announced financial support from businesses and organizations.
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