During a discussion of the proposed plastic bag ban, Mayor Norman Rosenblum introduced a package of papers from students at the eloquently supporting the measure and he told about the children's amazement when he answered their communications. The tale provided an opportunity for some residents concerned over the Pine Street imbroglio to rail at the board for ignoring their queries and concerns.
One resident claimed that the board was letting the developer who caused the flooding mess off the hook by using federal grant money to fix the problem. As he accused the board of overpaying for the job, which he said could be done for 25 percent of the cost that the village planned to pay for it, Village Manager Richard Slingerland shook his head and whispered "That's not true."
The discussion and public hearing over the plastic bag ban, at times, got heated between board members, though no one from the public spoke. Passage is a "foregone conclusion," said Rosenblum, although the final form is still under consideration. Any vote is likely a month or more away and the board will hammer out details at its next work session.
Rosenblum questioned the provision in the ban that exempts non-profits. "If it's wrong [to use plastic bags], it's wrong," he said. "The goal is to stop the use."
Further, the bill is only targeted toward retailers, he said, and if it results in added expenses—particularly for supermarkets—these costs will be passed on to the consumer. He also called for an extension of the date the ban would go into effect from six to nine months to give retailers the opportunity to get rid of existing stock.
Trustee Toni Pergola Ryan reported that the environmental committee leaned toward keeping the not-for-profit exemption and that they would only accept minimal changes to the document.
Rosenblum rebutted by saying, "The responsibility of this board is to not go to the extreme, which is what this is.” He noted that Rye, the first municipality in the area to ban plastic bags, does not have a grocery store within city limits anymore.
The mayor also expressed concern over paper bags, which are not exempt from the ban but are more expensive than plastic bags and are generally considered to be at least as bad for the environment as plastic.
The only public speaker—an activist from Pelham—told the board that some stores charge a dime for paper bags to discourage their use and mentioned that Westchester County is considering a plastic bag ban.
“Keep going," she said encouragingly. "Other people behind you are looking to you as a role model.”
Trustee John Hofstetter said whether or not surrounding municipalities have a ban should not effect the village's decision to proceed.
“This is geared toward encouraging social change and that’s the reason to do it in some form or another,” he said.
“This is for the greater common good," he said, adding that the village should encourage people to, "make educated decisions where they shop and how they shop.”
Rosenblum agreed that public education is essential for the law to work and that the enforcement mechanism is an issue.
But, he said, "We will be passing this law; it's just a question of what it might look like."
Editor's Note: A previous statement that indicated community member Stuart Tiekert was quieted by a police officer at the meeting was incorrect. The sentence has been removed. Patch apologizes for the error.