By JOANNE L. PAPAIANNI
The intentional release of balloons will no longer be allowed in Asbury Park following the amending of a city health and regulations ordinance.
The council noted that balloons filled with helium released into the atmosphere often end up in the ocean where marine life mistake them for food and eat them. The balloons which cannot be digested then obstruct the sea animals’ intestinal systems causing them to die from starvation.
Bradley Beach Councilman John Weber, who is also the Mid-Atlantic regional manager of the Surfrider Foundation, attended the meeting to thank the council for taking the measure.
Helen Henderson, of Lacey, and a member of the American Littoral Society also attended and thanked council for the balloon ban.
Another environmentally aimed vote, prohibiting the use of non reusable plastic bags in the city, was tabled. Council said more research was needed before the public hearing could be held.
According to the proposed amendment some bags would be exempt including bags without handles used for buying produce, meat or dry goods, bags used by dry cleaning establishments and pharmacy bags for prescriptions.
The definition of reusable bags are those with handles that are designed for multiple reuse and are made of either cloth or plastic that is at least 2.25 millimeters thick.
The amendment would not prevent businesses from providing single use paper bags or for charging customers a fee for paper bags or from selling reusable shopping bags.
It would also allow businesses to charge a fee of five cents for a plastic single use bag, which the businesses then keep.
In a quality of life vote council also approved an ordinance regarding begging and panhandling that will put limitations on how panhandlers may approach people asking for money.
Panhandlers are not permitted to harass, threaten or make physical contact with anyone in an effort to ask for money.
Another quality of life issue vote, an amendment regarding sleeping in public places, was tabled by council on the advice of City Attorney Frederick Raffetto who said more research of existing law was needed.
Raffetto said a recent court decision states that prohibiting people from sleeping in public places was considered “cruel and unusual punishment” because homeless people have nowhere else to go.
Raffetto said he is still researching the issue and wants to make sure the amendment would be in compliance with the law.