MILLBURN, NJ - If the public support at last night's meeting is any indication, the residents of Millburn Township are solidly in favor of a ban on single-use plastic bags in certain situations.
And after hearing from those residents, the township is one step closer to creating and implementing such an ordinance. The ordinance would focus on three specific items: plastic bags, plastic straws and Styrofoam takeout containers.
Other items, such as dry cleaning bags, would be exempted, on the grounds that an alternative does not yet widely exist.
The chamber meeting room was packed as members of the Millburn Environmental Commission spoke before the township committee to advocate for such a measure to be drafted and voted on.
Priya M. Patel was one of the environmental commission speakers, and noted any legislation drawn up would be similar to proposed state legislation S2776/A4330, a bill designed to accomplish the same goal.
Speaking with TAPinto after the meeting, Patel said that the long line of people who spoke in favor of such an ordinance being drafted made it clear to her that it was time to move forward.
"One of our students said it best," Patel said. "He said if not now, when...how much longer are we going to wait? How many more towns are going to pass these ordinances? We need to do this now."
One of the residents who spoke during public comments was Jeannie Golden. She echoed Patel's thoughts about other towns passing this type of legislation before Millburn had done so.
"I think it's extremely important," Golden said. "Especially since a precedent has already been set by nearby communities including Maplewood/South Orange and now it's being taken up by Summit. There's no reason why Millburn should not pass this ordinance."
One of the main points of debate from committee members before the vote on passing the legislation was what the impact would be on the business community. Millburn Deli owner Andrew Morgan was in attendance at last night's meeting as a representative of the business district.
Morgan and others in the merchant community were consulted by the environmental commission. While speaking with TAPinto, Morgan said that he felt the process has been equitable for his business so far.
"I think so," Morgan said. "I think that so far, everyone's been willing to listen to my concerns. And my concerns have always been about the practicality of implementation, not the theoretical benefit of the ordinance."
Finally, after hearing from township residents, and discussing the matter among themselves, the township committee voted unanimously to move forward with drafting an ordinance that would be proposed and voted on at a later date.
Mayor Diane Eglow spoke for the committee after the meeting. She felt comfortable in saying that there was enough support among the group to get something passed.
"I'm 100 percent comfortable," Eglow said. "I think we have a great resolution that we're working [with] as a template, and I believe we have five votes. [So] we've got this."