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Council to Weigh Grocery-Bag Ban

The Barrington Town Council will hear a proposal tonight to ban plastic grocery bags; senior beach-pass fee repeal also on agenda; zoning map hearing scheduled.

Council to Weigh Grocery-Bag Ban Council to Weigh Grocery-Bag Ban

The Town Council will be asked tonight, July 30, at its mid-summer meeting to make Barrington the first town in New England to ban plastic grocery bags.

The councilors also will be asked to repeal the $10 Barrington Beach pass fee for senior citizens.

And they will hold a public hearing on Planning Board-recommended amendments to the town’s zoning maps, including a new type of zoning.

The councilors also will approve salaries for all non-union workers, including all department heads, about one month into the new fiscal year.

The meeting starts at 7 pm in the Council Chamber in Town Hall.

The plastic bag-ban proposal will be presented by its originator, Joshua Roberts, a member of the Barrington Conservation Commission, which has endorsed the proposal. See previous Patch story.

Roberts got some additional support for his proposed ban last week from Environment Rhode Island, an advocacy organization. The group presented a letter signed by 14 Barrington businesses and petitions shaped into reusable bags that were signed by 340 Barrington residents to Town Council President June Speakman and Town Manager Peter DeAngelis Jr.

The letter said, in part: “We are writing to express our support for a ban on single-use plastic checkout bags here in Barrington…Barrington and Rhode Island can be leaders for the environment and Narragansett Bay by getting rid of plastic bags.”

Roberts, a political science professor at Roger Williams University, wrote up the proposal as an academic “white paper.”

“Recycling simply does not work,” said Roberts. “Recycling is not yet a viable option for the safe, effective disposal of these items. To that end, the most effective way to limit the problem in the environment is to reduce usage by eliminating the bags from the supply chain.”

Key elements of the proposed ordinance:

  • No retail store would be allowed to use the plastic bags at checkouts.
  • Retail stores should make reusable bags available for purchase.
  • Retail stores would be allowed to charge up to 5 cents per reusable bag.

Fines for violators would put some teeth into the ordinance. A first violation by a retail store would result in a $150 fine. A second violation within a year would be $300. A third violation would be a $750 fine.

Susan Tucker of Barrington has been opposed to the beach-pass fee for seniors since it was put into place by the Town Council last spring at the same time the Parks and Recreation Commission asked to boost the previous $20 beach pass fee for everyone else to $30.

Tucker will present a petition to the councilors with more than 50 names on it asking for a repeal of the fee.

The zoning map amendments would change the zoning for a package of properties in 15 areas. It also would introduce a new type of zoning: Conservation Development for the Nockum Hill area of Barrington.

Its goal is to protect at least 50 percent of a parcel of land as open space at no cost to a town, which in many instances is the only way to preserve land. See previous Patch story.

For the complete list of properties to be rezoned, click here and then click on Zoning Map Amendments to see a PDF.

The salaries for non-union workers were tabled early this month when Town Councilor Bill DeWitt asked the town manager to present a more complete picture of all salaries and benefits paid to these employees at tonight’s meeting. See Patch story on the proposed ordinance that sets the salaries.

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