Frederick Aldermen Table Proposed Ban On Single-Use Plastic Bags

They had some questions about the process.

Frederick, Md (KM) A proposed ordinance which would ban single-use plastic bags in the city of Frederick will be taken up by the Board of Aldermen during their first meeting in May. Last Thursday, the Board tabled the measure due to concerns about process, and not getting input from city departments.

Mayor Michael O’Connor said  this ordinance did not go through the normal process which includes a presentation from the city’s staff. “You are the arbitrator of your own rules,” he told the Aldermen. “So while I would say this is irregular, I cannot think of a similar example in my time in office where someone who is  frankly an advocate for but not a party to the ordinance in front of the Board making a presentation.”

Alderwoman Donna Kuzemchak is sponsoring the ordinance, and agreed to make the presentation. She said the idea for this legislation came from the Sierra Club. “It was brought by an outside group during a legislative workshop,” Alderwoman Kuzemchak said. “And it was something that nobody else seemed to be interested in and being the sponsor of. And I was interested. I thought it was something that was important to do.”

During the Thursday meeting, several aldermen expressed concerns  that no one from city departments which could have an interest in this issue were not there. “We have a Sustainability Manager. We have a Director of Economic Development. But they don’t seem to be here. Is there is reason that those staff persons aren’t here,” asked Alderman Ben MacShane.

“Because this item wasn’t generated by staff. It was generated by Alderwoman Kuzemchak,” Mayor O’Connor responded.

Alderman Derek Shackelford also said the city departments which could end up enforcing this ordinance were not present at the meeting. “I am a l little perplexed tonight that there’s no one from Sustainability’; no one from DPW; no one from Economic Development,” he said. “If this ordinance passes, this going to affect particularly  those three departments, those three entities. I’m just sharing from my vantage point.”

A motion was made by Alderwoman Kuzemchak to table the ordinance to the first meeting in May to give city staff time to review it. “I realize this is frustrating. It’s frustrating to me,” she said. “But that will allow us to maybe to get some of our other things in order, and allow staff a chance to look it. I would love staff to look at it.”

The vote to table the ordinance was 4-0-1 with Alderman Kelly Russell abstaining.

If this ordinance passes, retailers would be prohibited from providing their customers with plastic bags. They would also have to  charge customers ten-cents per bag if they provided them with paper bags. Violators could face fines of up to $500.

The ordinance, if approved by the Aldermen, would take affect on January 1st, 2024.

By Kevin McManus