STONINGTON — The ordinance drafted by the Plastic Bags and Straws Ad Hoc Committee that would ban or limit the use of carryout bags and plastic straws in Stonington has been forwarded to the town attorney for review.
The Board of Selectmen made the decision at a special meeting Nov. 28. The selectmen also voted to extend the committee’s term through July 2019. The board formed the committee in August and gave it 90 days to research and draft an ordinance to prohibit, regulate and/or reduce the use of plastic bags and straws.
“We originally gave them 90 days to report back to us and they were very efficient,” First Selectman Rob Simmons said this week. He said the board wanted the committee to know that it was serious about pursuing its recommendations. "We are not going to just take their recommendations and put them on a shelf,” Simmons said.
Simmons said Stonington would be the first town in Connecticut to put both plastic straws and bags in one ordinance.
Exemptions would include plastic bags used for dry-cleaning, newspaper delivery, pet waste, yard waste, and prescription drugs. Also exempted were garbage bags, door-hanger bags and the type of thin plastic bags, known as barrier bags, used to carry fruit, vegetables, bakery, and frozen foods.
If the Board of Selectmen approves the town attorney’s draft of the ordinance, it would go to a town meeting for a vote. If voters approve the ordinance, it would be put into law six months from the date of the town meeting.
A period of public education will take place before scheduling the town meeting, Simmons said.
“People aren’t going to vote for a special town meeting unless they have a feeling for what it’s all about,” he said.
If voters approve the ordinance, a six-month implementation period would also follow, Simmons said.
The draft ordinance includes a $150 fine for businesses that do not comply with the new regulations, but Simmons said the approach will be positive rather than punitive.
“We're trying to do it in a congenial fashion, in such a way that there are incentives, not punishments,” he said. “I’m not interested in creating the 'plastic police.'”
Simmons said he expected to hear back from the town attorney in January.