2018-07-05 / Front Page

Marina gets OK to use plastic bags


Despite the ban that went into effect in April, the town will allow Conanicut Marine Services to use plastic bags through May 2019.

“This is a unique circumstance,” said Andy Nota, town administrator.

The town council voted in September to ban carry-out bags to “protect the environment and the public health, safety and welfare of all residents and visitors.” The ordinance empowers Nota with jurisdiction over hardship requests, which means he doesn’t need council approval to grant an appeal. The measure also delayed the effective date seven months so businesses could dwindle their inventory.

According to Nota’s decision, this only provided the marina with a “limited opportunity to effectively disburse its inventory” because the business relies on warm weather. The grace period, meanwhile, was during the winter.

“I feel that the nature of the business model and other annual limitations are pertinent,” he wrote.

Also, unlike McQuade’s Marketplace and Cumberland Farms, which are chains that have stores in other municipalities, Conanicut Marine cannot transfer its custom bags to another location.

“In this case, we have a Jamestown business that does not have another outlet operating in a location where a similar restriction is not in effect,” Nota said. “There exists no opportunity to reposition excess inventory.”

Marilyn Munger, purchasing manager at Conanicut Marine, submitted the hardship request June 19, two days before Nota’s approval. According to her appeal, the company ordered 15,000 custom bags in October 2016, and two-thirds of that inventory is still in stock. The value, she indicated, is $5,000.

Conanicut Marine, which leases the East Ferry marina from the town, is headquartered at its retail store on Narragansett Avenue.

The ordinance, which passed 4-1 with Republican Blake Dickinson dissenting, said these bags have “significant detrimental impacts” on terrestrial and coastal ecosystems through pollution because they are “commonly not recycled.” They are responsible for clogged drains and pose a threat to marine life through ingestion and entanglement, proponents argued.

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