By GERARD NOLAN
After eight months of deliberation, Tuckahoe’s Board of Trustees defeated a proposed law Sept. 9 that would ban using plastic bags in the village, a measure that easily passed in Westchester communities such as Mamaroneck and Rye.
The proposed law’s sponsor, Trustee Stephen Quigley, the lone Democrat on the board, expressed disappointment that his colleagues were unwilling to enact the law, which included stiff financial penalties.
“I think my colleagues believe it’s a good idea, but are not willing to put any kind of sanction or enforcement behind it,” he said.
Quigley’s motion in favor of adopting the measure was not seconded and the proposed law was defeated by a 4-1 vote.
Quigley said that, while the decision was made along political lines, a similar ban passed easily in Republican-leaning Rye.
“The vote tonight is based, at least in part, on the presumption that people understand that there should be restrictions on the ever-expanding use of plastic shopping bags, but don’t need the force of law to reduce the use of such bags,” he said. “History has repeatedly demonstrated that good ideas remain just that, ideas, unless measurable enforcement is behind them.”
He likened the proposed law to seatbelt or no texting while driving laws.
While all the dissenting trustees expressed respect for Quigley’s position, they said they didn’t believe in codifying anti-pollution sentiment.
Mayor Steve Ecklond, a Republican, said he felt the law was overreaching.
“Where I’ve had difficulty with this all along is the legislative component of imposing a financial penalty for something which I believe can be and should be a volunteer responsibility,” Ecklond said.
If passed, the law would have been implemented within six months.
All vendors in the village would have had to phase out plastic bags. After that, violators would have been subject to fines following a warning for the first offense and fines of up to $500 after several violations.
Many vendors and residents opposed the measure, according to Republican Trustee Greg Luisi, who favors educating citizens about recycling instead of mandating they practice it.
Trustee Tom Giordano, a Republican, said that, even though he was opposed to the law, he was glad Quigley brought the issue to the fore.
“I think that the concepts that he has expressed are worthy of discussion,” Giordano said. “For that, I think there has been a positive outcome.”