Preserving the beauty and health of our natural resources are key for the Pinelands and Barrier Island; the main reason why local ordnances and balloon bans have been put in place the past few years. With a new bill A4322 sponsored by District 11 Monmouth County Assemblyman Houghtaling and Assemblywomen Downey, this may further restrict releases of balloons and other floating devices. The bill cites that balloons and other devices present unnecessary risks to the environment by endangering wildlife and marine animals. Many animals are attracted to the bright colors of the balloons or floating devices and mistake them for food. If ingested, a balloon or other floating device can cause severe injury or death. Animals have often become entangled in the materials that tether the devices, such as balloon strings, and are injured or strangled to death as a result. Shore towns such as Atlantic City, Asbury Park, Long Beach Township, Margate, Sea Isle City, Somers Point, and Ventnor have already adopted ordinances that prohibit the intentional release of balloons inflated with lighter-than-air gases. The Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce had banned balloons of all kinds from their popular Chowderfest Weekend since 2018.
The bill introduced on June 29, 2020, states that no person shall intentionally release an inflated balloon, sky lantern, aerial luminary lantern or another device capable of floating in the air and if untethered capable of floating out of the control from the individual, firm, association, or government entity that tethered the device. This does not include balloons released for scientific or meteorological purposes or a hot air balloon that is recovered.
If passed, the bill will go into effect 90 days after the date of enactment. The bill established a penalty of $1000 for each offense; and a penalty of $2,000 for each offense for a person who tethers a balloon or other floating device in violation of subsection b. of section 2 of the bill, which is released beyond the control of the person who tethered it.
Finally, the bill authorizes the Department of Environmental Protection, Department of Health, or an entity certified pursuant to the County Environmental Health Act, to institute a civil action for civil penalties or for injunctive relief to enforce this act and to prohibit and prevent a violation of this act.
Nature Conservation groups have suggested planting trees, vegetable gardens, or flowers in remembrance or using ribbon banners, garden spinners, or other colorful reusable items during the ceremony.