Stonington plastics ban will not have referendum challenge

Stonington -- There will be no referendum vote on the new plastic bags and straws ordinance.

Town Clerk Cindy Ladwig confirmed Monday afternoon that a petition containing the 200 signatures needed to force a referendum had not been filed by the 4 p.m. deadline.

Resident Tom Maher was collecting the signatures because he was concerned about a provision in the ordinance that would allow the town to not renew licenses for businesses found to be in violation of the ordinance. He said the stringent penalty “did not fit the crime.”

At a town meeting, two weeks ago, residents overwhelmingly voted to support a ban on single-use plastic bags and straws. Under the ordinance, a full-service restaurant cannot provide a plastic straw unless a customer requests one. Sit-down restaurants are the only businesses affected by the straw ban.

First-time violators of the ordinance’s provisions would be notified by the town and given 14 days to comply. Each subsequent violation is punishable by a $150 fine.

Maher said Sunday he had collected 180 of the 200 signatures he needed but had not yet gathered the remainder because restaurants, which he said are most effected by the ordinance, were not interested in signing the petition.

“If the restaurants don’t want to fight it, why bother,’ he said, adding that the restaurants fear that if they speak out against the ordinance “they will be labeled as being against the environment.”

But he said that almost all the residents he asked signed it.

“They’re tired of this nanny state stuff,” he said.

 

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