Snowmass Village may join the plastic bag ban bandwagon.
The Town Council at its July 23 meeting will likely decide whether to ask voters in November if Village Market, the village’s lone grocery store, should offer only paper bags, according to interviews with three councilmen Thursday.
While the ballot language still needs to be hashed out before the Sept. 7 filing deadline, the town’s model could follow that of Aspen and Carbondale. Both communities have banned plastic bags, and their grocery stores sell paper ones for 20 cents in an effort to encourage customers to carry reusable bags with them.
Mayor Bill Boineau said he has mixed feeling about plastic bags personally, and, like councilmen Fred Kucker and John Wilkinson, feels that the issue should be decided by Snowmass citizens.
“It’s been talked about for a while, and one comment’s been, ‘Let’s take it to the community and see what they want to do,’” Boineau said. “I think we’ll go to voters in November to see if they want to go in this direction.”
A film called “Bag It” persuaded Boineau, who originally thought plastic bags weren’t a big deal, to change his mind about the issue’s importance, he said, as did the fact that cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., have implemented bans.
But he said banning plastic bags could be a hardship on tourists unaware of the policy, a stance with which Wilkinson said he agreed.
“It’s a tough question because we’re a resort community,” Wilkinson said. “People coming from Brazil are not going to understand this.”
But he said he and his family use the bags and that he supports the idea from an environmental standpoint.
The ballot language should include instructions for the owners of rental condominiums and hotels on making guests aware of the bag ban, he said. Rooms should also be stocked with reusable bags, Wilkinson said.
He said he also wants the conversation to extend beyond just the grocery store to have the potential ban include all retail shops. Businesses like T-shirt shops and dry cleaners also use plastic, Wilkinson said.
Kucker said the town government should not impose the bag ban and fee unless residents approve it. He said he wants to avoid giving customers who have already paid to vacation in Snowmass an added surprise cost.
“Taxes are high enough,” Kucker said. “People get here and they shop for an entire week, and to stick them with a couple of more bucks to me seems unfair.”
Aspen City Council in October voted to adopt an ordinance banning the bags, while Carbondale officials put the issue to a vote in April. Voters passed the measure but narrowly, 718 to 691. The ban took affect in May. Basalt voters, also in April, nixed an effort in their town to ban or tax plastic bags.
And now it will likely be Snowmass Village’s turn to decide.
“I think it’s about time to ask the community to see if this is something that they want to pursue,” Boineau said.