By PETE WALTON
Bradley Beach will delay its ban on carryout plastic bags in the borough until Jan. 1.
Pushing back the implementation from Oct. 1 will allow the borough more time to explore the provision of reusable bags, possibly in cooperation with businesses.
By a 5-0 vote on July 24, the Borough Council prohibited the distribution of most types of plastic bags by businesses.
“No operator of any store shall provide any single-use plastic carryout bag to any customer for the purpose of enabling a customer to transport products or goods out of the store,” according to the ordinance.
Businesses must charge no less than five cents for a single-use paper bag, the ordinance says. Customers can provide their own reusable bags to transport items out of stores.
The five cent fee would be kept by the businesses.
Not included in the ban are bags intended to prevent an item from damaging or contaminating another item, laundry or dry-cleaning bags, newspaper bags, bags used to contain moisture, bags provided by pharmacists to hold prescription drugs, small clear plastic bags used by hardware stores to hold screws and bolts and other such items, and bags packaged and sold for use as garbage, pet waste, or yard waste bags.
The penalty for violating the ordinance is a fine not to exceed $100 for a first offense, and $500 for each offense thereafter.
Before the council voted at its meeting earlier this week to push back the date, objections were raised to the five cent fee, which had already been approved after two public hearings at which little negative feedback was raised.
At this week’s meeting, after several residents said the fee amounted to a tax, Councilman Harold Cotler suggested that businesses be given the option of charging for the paper bags or providing them to customers for free.
“The point is they have to charge the fee, that’s the goal,” said Councilman John Weber. “Otherwise, we have what we have now.”
On the subject of taxes, Cotler urged residents to demand fiscal responsibility when they vote for state legislators.
“The state budget is going up 7.8 percent,” he noted. “We haven’t raised taxes here. The state legislature should be as responsible as we are.”
The next scheduled election for the state legislature is in November of 2019.
Mayor Gary Engelstad read a letter from U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-4th) announcing that changes were underway at the Bradley Beach post office aimed at addressing issues with delivery of packages and letters in the borough. Smith said the improvements would be fully implemented before the holiday season. A number of residents applauded the announcement, and the mayor thanked citizens for bringing their concerns to the congressman.
Concerns were raised by neighbors of property owners who are renting out their homes by the day or weekend.
Engelstad said the borough was considering ways to discourage such uses but in the meantime, all property owners are required to obtain a certificate of occupancy for each new tenant who rents their home. If residents believe certificates were not obtained, Borough Administrator Kelly Barrett said they can call the borough’s code enforcement office during business hours or the police department at other times.
Councilman Randy Bonnell reported infrastructure damage to borough property as the result of construction at the former Giamano’s restaurant site.
Borough Engineer Gerald Freda said that approval for the construction requires the applicant to repair all damage to borough property.
Bonnell said that root damage to a large tree at the site could cause it to fall over with winds such as those which could result from anticipated storm activity.