Long Beach Township Postpones Decision on Plastic Bag Ban for Businesses

By JULIET KASZAS-HOCH | Oct 03, 2017
File Photo by Ryan Morrill

The Long Beach Township Board of Commissioners has tabled adoption of an ordinance to prohibit businesses in the municipality from distributing single-use plastic carryout bags. The board will revisit the proposal at the Nov. 6 meeting.

Mayor Joseph Mancini indicated that town officials met on Monday with representatives from Acme – a supermarket located in the Beach Haven Park section – but the company requested another meeting.

“Acme is working closely, as always, with the community and mayor of Long Beach Township on this matter. We are optimistic that we will be able to continue to work with the mayor and community of Long Beach Township to come to an agreement that works for all parties,” said Dana Ward, Acme’s senior communications coordinator.

Ordinance 17-31C reads, the municipality “believes it has a duty to investigate and implement any and all necessary and proper steps the township can take to protect the environment and the public health, welfare and safety.”

“Single-use plastic bags are just out of control,” the mayor remarked at a previous meeting. “They’re on the water, they’re blowing by on the beach; they’re everywhere.

“I think it’s time,” he added, to take action to reduce the number of plastic bags in the waste stream and the environment, and to promote reusable bags for shopping.

The residents who spoke at Monday’s meeting were in full agreement.

“It’s a great idea,” said Maria DiPasquale.

“I support the ban on plastic bags,” Michael Cafiero stated.

Avid beachcomber Judy Bouton noted, “I often pick up more trash than treasure,” much of it plastic. Bouton also applauded the township’s ban on helium balloon releases, and hopes this will be strictly enforced.

Diane McCabe and Pam Masturzo both watched the documentary film “Plastic Ocean” recently. It reinforced to them the dangers of plastic bags in the environment. “It’s just appalling,” said Masturzo, who pointed out that San Francisco managed to ban plastic bags in food establishments and retail stores years ago.

Bringing reusable bags to the store, she remarked, is “simple. Everyone can do it.”

The township ordinance notes that, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, as many as one trillion plastic bags are used worldwide each year. It’s estimated that less than five percent of that plastic is recycled.

“It is beyond dispute,” the proposed ordinance reads, “that the use of single-use plastic carryout bags has a severe and negative environmental impact on the local and global environment as a result of the greenhouse gas emissions emitted to produce such bags, the land-based and ocean-based pollution created, the hazards posed to wildlife, the blocking of storm drains by plastic, the hazards posed to sources of water for humans, and the negative impact on the ecosystem and food chain as a whole.”

Mancini envisions a six-month phase-in of the bag ban if the board of commissioners adopts the measure. Patrons would then be tasked with bringing their own reusable bags to the stores – as more and more individuals already do now, at grocery stores in particular – or they would have to pay a fee for recycled paper bags.

Also during the meeting, the township swore in new police officer Jessica Burkhard, who will be assigned to the patrol division. Police Chief Anthony Deely called Burkhard an “exceptional” officer with EMT training and a steadfast dedication to the community.

“She will be a true asset and will represent what this department is all about,” Deely added.

The township also recognized Women’s Health Month, Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month and National Friends of Library Week, the latter with a presentation from Bouton, president of the Friends of the Island Library, along with Vice President Bernadette Callanan and Membership Chair Laura Arluna.

Administrator Kyle Ominski reported that this coming weekend will be the last for the seasonal shuttle buses, which, as Commissioner Joseph Lattanzi noted, carried approximately 110,000 riders this summer.

The mayor and commissioners asked that residents support the upcoming referendum in November to allow the township to charge a nominal fee for the buses, should that become necessary.

In addition, the municipality will hold a referendum for a one-cent open space tax. “In Long Beach Township, we don’t have enough open space,” said Mancini. The tax would raise $850,000 a year, and would be matched by the county, then allowing the township to purchase selected properties that come on the market and turn them back into open land or parks.

Callanan thanked the town officials for purchasing a lot in Beach Haven Terrace that is now a veterans park. “What a difference it makes,” to enjoy the park when getting donuts from nearby Marvel’s Bakery, she stated.

Commissioner Ralph Bayard, meanwhile, announced that dune grass will be available for residents to pick up at the public works department yard beginning Oct. 7. He also noted that dogs are now allowed on the beaches.

And, Joni Bakum and Bill Hutson both mentioned that the kite festival will take place this coming weekend, Oct.6-8, starting with an indoor fly at the LBI School in Ship Bottom on Friday. Kites will be on the beaches in Ship Bottom throughout the weekend. Bayview Park in Brant Beach will host a festival bazaar, kite making and a market, with food and entertainment.

For more information on township events, visit longbeachtownship.com.

julietkaszas-hoch@thesandpaper.net

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