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November 13, 2012
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Snowmass won't have a bag law any time soon

SNOWMASS VILLAGE - The voters have spoken: They don't want the town to regulate plastic and paper bags.

According to preliminary results from Election Day, 52.71 percent of eligible Snowmass voters responded "no" to an advisory question asking if the town should pursue any kind of ordinance on the distribution and use of single-use, disposable plastic and paper bags.

Mayor Bill Boineau, who started the conversation that led Town Council to put the question on the ballot, said he's not going to pursue bag legislation any further.

"That's why I asked them to put it on the ballot," he said.

When he brought it up this summer, Boineau had hoped to draft an ordinance that the council could present voters with. When there wasn't enough time to accomplish that, the council voted to ask the advisory question to see how the community felt about a bag ordinance in general.

By a slim margin, they responded negatively, with 655 "yes" votes and 730 "no" votes counted as of Nov. 6.

"I do believe there could be a good educational program of some sort that helps businesses and people in the community do something different than always using plastic bags," Boineau said.

Director of communications Kelly Vaughn said the Environmental Advisory Board, which met the day after the election, has the same attitude.

"There doesn't have to be a regulation or a ban or legislation passed in order for there to be education around single-use plastic bags," Vaughn said.

Sally Sparhawk, board chairwoman, said an educational program would be the next logical step. However, she said bag legislation isn't the highest priority.

"More and more people are bringing bags on their own," she said.

Sparhawk based that comment on an observation made by vice chairman Chris Jacobson. Jacobson, who is leading the race for the second open seat on Town Council, said while standing outside Village Market campaigning he noticed a lot of residents carrying reusable bags.

"It was surprising to me," he said. "There were a lot of people already voluntarily bringing their bags."

Some hotels and businesses in the Roaring Fork Valley produce reusable bags with their logos on them. Jacobson said the board hasn't come up with a concrete plan yet but discussed teaming up with the marketing board or even reaching out to local businesses to create bags and make them available to the public.

"The town and businesses could team up to just get the job done," he said.

He reiterated that bags aren't the most critical issue to the board and that it didn't see the need to spend a lot of time on them. According to Jacobson, much of the conversation around a bag ordinance wound up revolving around government's role in such issues.

"It would be nice to still just solve the problem," he said. "I think it'd be a shame to see a simple solution wasted because of a larger ideological discussion."

According to Sparhawk, the board is working to find more renewable energy sources for the town. She also said the Town Council might have some new environmental priorities after the election.

"There are bigger issues," she said. "We're looking now at a holistic view of the town."

jbeathard@snowmasssun.com


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The Aspen Times Updated Nov 13, 2012 04:44PM Published Nov 13, 2012 04:44PM Copyright 2012 The Aspen Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.