Concord considering plastic ban

Concord Township Council Tuesday night opened two ordinance hearings, one of which, if approved, would ban single-use plastic bags and straws in the township. The other would establish enforcement of stop signs.

No action was taken on either measure. The stop sign ordinance hearing was opened and closed with a decision pending. The other hearing was continued with the possibility of a townhall meeting being held to get more public input on what the township can do regarding the environment.

The ban on plastic was proposed in August by Council Vice President John Gillespie. He said at the time, “When you look at the damage these plastic bags and straws are doing to the wildlife, our oceans and landfills, it just makes you sick.”

Several residents spoke during the hearing, commenting on why they believe such a ban is needed. Poor acoustics rendered many of the comments and names inaudible, but several people cited statistics saying 500 million single-use straws are used in the United States each year as are a billion plastic bags — with only 10 percent of the bags being recycled.

Another person said she didn’t want to see a ban on single-use plastic but would prefer a tax on their use. Still another said, “The world is drowning in plastic.”

Several other people said the proposal is “a step in the right direction.”

Council President Dominic Pileggi said that even if the ordinance passes, it can’t go into effect until July of 2020 because of state law. The borough of West Chester passed a similar plastic ban earlier this year.

While there was no disagreement expressed from residents or council members regarding the proposed ban on plastic, there was some heat between one Council member and the solicitor regarding the stop sign ordinance.

Concord does not currently have an ordinance regarding its more than 200 stop signs in the township. Solicitor Hugh Donaghue said enacting the ordinance would eliminate any possibility of someone charged with driving through a stop challenging the legality of the signs.

“We need to establish an ordinance for prosecution,” he said. However, Donaghue  added that no one has ever challenged such a citation based on the lack of an ordinance.

The call for an ordinance came from Councilman Joshua Twersky several months ago. But he was not satisfied with the wording of the proposed ordinance and said many of the existing stop signs were not justified. Reading from a PennDOT technical bulletin, he said there needs to be a warrant for stop signs.

However, Donaghue disagreed saying the technical manual is only a guideline and that traffic warrants are only required for traffic lights, not stop signs. At which point, he and Twersky began overtalking one another with increased volume.

Council member John Crossan was finally able to get in a word and said Twersky could have and should have made his comments known before the hearing instead of turning it into “political grandstanding.”

The hearing was continued. Council’s October meeting was moved to Tuesday, Oct. 15, 7 p.m. in the municipal building.

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About Rich Schwartzman

Rich Schwartzman has been reporting on events in the greater Chadds Ford area since September 2001 when he became the founding editor of The Chadds Ford Post. In April 2009 he became managing editor of ChaddsFordLive. He is also an award-winning photographer.

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