HANSON — At a special joint meeting of the Board of Selectmen and the Board of Health Tuesday, March 19, officials decided to move forward with polystyrene and plastic bag ban town meeting warrant articles, but not as originally proposed for the May annual Town Meeting.
The bans are now likely to be on the October special Town Meeting warrant, proposed by the Board of Health, although, “the language will need to be tightened up,” said Board of Health chairman Arlene Dias.
The warrant articles, penned by Town Administrator Michael McCue based on similar bans in other communities in Massachusetts, were written so that there was a Board of Selectmen warrant recommendation and a Board of Health warrant recommendation, he said, which Selectman Matthew Dyer was not aware of until recently.
The two boards clashed on whether or not to pursue polystyrene and plastic bag ban articles in the first place, which board the articles would be recommended from and who would enforce the bans, if approved at town meeting.
Dias said she supported the bans, but added she felt there needed to be more education, and that bans would simply increase paper that needed to be recycled at the transfer station.
“You need to look at what a ban will do,” she said. “I’m not happy with the bylaw. It’s too soon.”
Dyer has been spearheading the proposed bans. It became clear early on in the meeting which board would recommend the article was a central component of the debate, as was the issue of who would enforce the ban, which was brought up by Selectman Laura FitzGerald-Kemmett.
McCue said that most towns instituting such bans do so as through the Board of Health, with the Health Agent as the enforcement officer. Hanson does not have a permanent Health Agent currently. Selectmen briefly entertained the notion of the Building Inspector enforcing the ban on behalf of the Board of Selectmen.
Alternatively, Dyer said, “I’ll enforce [the ban] until I kick the bucket or get elected out of office,” but noted that he will ultimately not be around to be the enforcement officer.
Later, the selectmen reached a consensus among themselves and the Board of Health members and decided that any future polystyrene and bag bans would be recommended at a town meeting as a warrant article by the Board of Health.
Dyer fought for the earlier May ATM, but was not disappointed, he said, to move the proposed warrant article back to October’s STM, as long as the start date for the ban was July 1, 2020.
The Selectmen and Board of Health agreed, and the Board of Health will work with Dyer on the article along with Selectman Wes Blauss.
After the meeting, Dyer said with sincerity that he wasn’t disappointed and, “Look at it this way: we’re moving toward a goal.”