Tuckahoe plastic bag ban nearing vote

By GERARD NOLAN

After months in limbo, Tuckahoe’s proposed ban on plastic bags is slated to come to a vote next month.

Epstein's

If Tuckahoe’s proposed bag ban passes, businesses, like clothing store Epstein’s at 21 Columbus Ave., would have to switch to paper or reusable bags. Photo/Gerard Nolan

The measure, which was proposed by the lone Democrat on the village board in February, was intended as a way to protect the environment in and around the Village of Tuckahoe. Similar laws have easily passed in Mamaroneck and Rye, but some worry that the ban will do more harm than good.

“My initial thought when this was first proposed back in February was that it was government overregulation, and I still believe that,” Trustee Greg Luisi, a Republican, said.

Luisi said banning plastic bags would merely be “feel good” legislation that would have little effect on the environment and place a burden on local businesses and inconvenience residents.

“In the overall scheme of things, we have bigger fish to fry,” he said.

Democratic Trustee Stephen Quigley proposed the law after he learned of a similar law that passed in the City of Rye. He said the proposed law has been met with more opposition on the board than he expected, and has been working on revising the law to make it more passable.

“At this stage, it would probably not pass,” Quigley said. “What I’ve been trying to do is tweak it enough so I could get three votes.” The village board is made up of five members and requires a three vote majority for any legislation to pass.

Luisi is going to be a tough sell.

“I’m not in favor of a compromise on this one,” he said. “The legislation that was proposed should have been voted on the night we closed the public meeting. This has been dragging on way, way too long.”

Instead, Luisi said that the village needs to focus its efforts on ramping up recycling initiatives, focusing on all kinds of materials that can pollute the environment.

Quigley agrees that the village should increase its recycling efforts—currently, plastic bags
cannot be recycled by the village—but he said there’s a difference between a good idea and getting people to change their habits.

“They need more than just a good idea to change their behavior,” he said.

Quigley said there’s been a move to reduce or eliminate penalties from the proposed pastic bag law, but he maintained that laws without punitive elements are toothless and therefore worthless and the punitive side of the law is relatively minor.

“We’re going to give people at least two or three cracks,” Quigley said.

Under the current proposal, which is still subject to revision, first time offenders are issued a warning. The village will levy a $100 fine for the second offense and $250 for the third. For each offense after three, the fine will not exceed $500.

If the measure passes, businesses will have six months to change over to paper bags or find other alternatives to plastic bags.

Both trustees agreed that the issue is not a partisan one, but rather an issue of common sense.

Epstein’s manager Paul Fetonti said the ban would make things harder for his business, a clothing store located on Columbus Avenue.

“We’re certainly against it,” Fetonti said. “Economically speaking, paper bags are more expensive.

They take up a hell of a lot more room to store.”

Both Luisi and Quigley believe the public agrees with their respective positions.

Luisi said the vote should be put up for a referendum.

Mayor Steve Ecklond, a Republican, said the issue has dragged on through the summer because board members have been away or on vacation.

“I wanted to make sure we had a full board for this vote,” Ecklond said.

Ecklond said the measure will come to a vote at the Sept. 9 Board of Trustees meeting.