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May 23, 2018

5/16/2018 11:38:00 AM
Council will vote on plastic bag ban in June

Plastics dominated the Town Council’s May 8 session. The Council signaled its willingness to ban disposable plastic bags handed out at retail stores. Carol Sullivan of Mount Vernon, the “BAG Lady with Skagit BAG BANd Wagon,” made a lively, lengthy, power-less, pointed presentation, using poster board signs to start the meeting. She buried them with facts: in this plastic age 350 million tons are produced annually. One hundred billion bags are used annually. Half of all plastics are single use and then trashed.
Sullivan said society has “fallen into a plastic addiction without learning that they are indestructible: almost all plastic ever produced is still with us.” But, “we are not buried yet,” she said in closing. She said our responsibility was to future generations.
Council then engaged with Sullivan and each other about the need and usefulness – and problems – of a ban in La Conner.
Sullivan had a ready solution: The City of Bellingham’s bag ban ordinance. It had been developed as a model for other Washington municipalities to follow.
Council member Jacques Brunisholz, who had invited Sullivan, embraced her view. Member Bill Stokes asked about a county wide ban. Sullivan explained her “city to city” strategy aimed to have more voices speak, “instead of having three people [the county commissioners] speak to it.” Council members emphasized the need for education in the public schools, and the high level of awareness students have. Stokes favored voluntary actions over mandatory bans. Member Mary Wohleb suggested a five cents fee per bag would “make it easy to make a good decision,” changing behavior.

After Mayor Ramon Hayes told Council he “would like to see La Conner do it first,” and become the first municipality in Skagit County to ban disposable plastic bags at retail stores, Brunisholz’s motion for staff to craft an ordinance guided by Bellingham’s was passed unanimously. Hayes laid out a 30 day schedule, with a vote at the June 5 meeting. He said he would inform staff at Pioneer Market and other stores.
Also at council:
• Hayes provided a brief update on replacing the water main which broke in January. He said the town engineer reported “there is no option except the 16-inch line, any other option would be detrimental to the system.” Shelter Bay will be charged for their percentage of the project’s costs. “Whether or not they leave the system, they are in for the entire cost of [their portion] of the water line,” he stated.
Administrator Scott Thomas told Council he had compared the costs of a bond versus a loan for financing the water main project and recommended a loan as less costly.
• The updated Skagit County Solid Waste Management Plan, which provides “guidance for the solid waste system in Skagit County,” was unanimously adopted. Annual cabaret licenses were approved for Santo Coyote Mexican Restaurant and La Conner Waterfront Café without dissent. These were necessary for the guitar festival.
• Thomas introduced Danielle Freiberger, hired in April as the office assistant. As part of her duties she is handling some of the planning work previously done by the retired Lori Clumpner.
• Hayes was visibly moved when announcing that Jeanne Johnson had passed after breaking her hip.

Related Links:
• Kenneth Stern

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