Another Shore town proposes bag fee ordinance

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Birchler

Ventnor is the latest Jersey Shore municipality to propose a fee for single-use bags.

The Atlantic County city’s Board of Commissioners last week introduced the ordinance, which would require businesses to charge a fee for any type of bag given to customers.

According to the proposed ordinance, which will go to a vote on February 22, stores — including any vendor establishment that sells goods except for dine-in restaurants — would be required to assess a fee of not less than five cents.

The store would keep the fee, which would exempts seafood, fresh meat, and prescription medicine. Federal food assistance programs are exempt.

Under the ordinance, the Public Works Department would enforce the ordinance, which prescribes a warning for the first offense and a $100 fine for subsequent offenses.

The ordinance is slated to go into effect on Oct. 1 if adopted.

Nearby Longport approved a similar measure in 2016. The Atlantic County municipality received a “Creativity and Innovation Award” for the first of its kind legislation in the state from Sustainable Jersey in 2016.

“Enacting New Jersey’s first single-use bag fee ordinance is a small step towards reducing the dangers that single-use bags, in particular those made of thin plastic film, pose to the environment,” Longport Mayor Nicholas Russo said at the time.

“As a coastal community, we find these plastic bags washing up on our beaches, jamming our beach rakes, and clogging our storm drains. We know that they can have a devastating impact on marine wildlife. I say it is a small step because in order to see significant change, it is a step that I hope all 565 municipalities will strive towards,” he added.

Last November, Long Beach Township adopted an ordinance that bans commercial establishments from providing customers with single-use bags. Nearby Harvey Cedars adopted a similar measure earlier this month.

Plastic bags consistently pop up as one of the most collected items in beach cleanups, according to Beth Kwart, chair of the South Jersey chapter of the nonprofit Surfrider Foundation.

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