standing Westerly Town Hall

WESTERLY — The Town Council will discuss a proposed ordinance calling for a straws on demand policy for local restaurants.

The proposed ordinance was one of four originally proposed by the Joint Committee on Plastics Utilization and Commerce. A ban on the distribution of single use plastic bags went into effect on Jan. 1. The other two proposals, which would regulate the distribution of foam containers and prohibit the distribution of balloons, have not yet been taken up by the council.

Council President Christopher Duhamel said Monday that he would put the proposed straw ordinance on an upcoming agenda. Councilor William Aiello has been asking for the agenda items for months, and on Monday Councilor Caswell Cooke Jr. agreed to support Aiello's request. Council rules allow items to be put on the agenda if they are supported by two or more councilors.

Theresa Cavalier, who served as chairwoman of the plastics committee, appeared before the Town Council on Feb. 10 and again on Monday. She asked the council to follow through on previous indications that it would take up the straws, foam, and balloons ordinances.

The policies proposed by the committee are all in effect in other towns in the state and the committee was established by the council in response to residents' requests and environmental activism and advocacy, Cavalier said.

"It's not my committee, it's what citizens wanted," Cavalier said.

The committee, which was established by the previous Town Council, had hoped councilors would attend the educational sessions it conducted last year, Cavalier said. She said she hoped that the council was not being overly swayed by the concerns of business owners.

"Businesses don't vote, the people vote. The people are the ones who are saying we want the businesses to have more accountability, especially the big box stores," Cavlier said.

Cooke said criticism of the Town Council was not helpful and that the council never committed to discussing the other proposed ordinances at a particular time. He also asked for patience, saying the council was busy with other issues.

In December the council decided not to extend the plastics committee's time of service, and was dissolved at the end of the year. In the same month Duhamel said the council would take up one of the other ordinances in January or February. Similar comments were made earlier in the year.

Aiello, who served as council liaison to the committee, said, "it was indicated to the committee that the council would look at the remaining three ordinances every few months or so."

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