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City council to vote on single-use plastic bag ban
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Tonight, Camden City Council will take up first reading of an ordinance that would -- with some exceptions -- ban the use of so-called “single-use” plastic bags by businesses and organizations, including city government itself.

The purpose of the ordinance, according to a copy attached to tonight’s agenda, is to eliminate such plastic bags in order to “protect flora, fauna, and waterways within the city, maximize the operating life of solid waste landfills, and lessen the economic and environmental costs of managing waste.”

To do so, the ordinance would impose the following regulations:

• No person may provide single-use plastic carryout bags at any city facility, city-sponsored event, at any event held on city property.

• No business establishment within the city limits may provide single-use plastic carryout bags to its customers.

• Business establishments within the city limits are strongly encouraged to provide prominently displayed signage advising customers of the benefit of reducing, reusing and recycling, and promoting the use of reusable carryout bags by customers.

• A business establishment within the city limits may provide or sell reusable carryout bags to its customers or any person.

Exemptions include laundry dry cleaning bags; door-hanger bags; newspaper bags; or packages of bags intended for disposal of garbage, pet waste or yard waste; and single-use plastic carryout bags provided by pharmacists or veterinarians to contain prescription drugs or other medical necessities.

Also exempt would be single-use plastic carryout bags used by a customer inside a business to contain bulk items, such as produce, nuts, grains, candy or small hardware items; contain or wrap frozen foods, meat, or fish, whether or not prepackaged; contain or wrap flowers, potted plants, or other items to prevent moisture damage to other purchases; or contain unwrapped prepared foods or bakery goods.

In addition, customers may bring their own single-use carryout plastic bags to use as if they were a reusable bag.

Under the new ordinance, if passed, businesses would receive a warning the first time they violate the regulations. After that, a first offense would impose a penalty of up to a $100 fine; $200 for a second violation within 12 months; and $500 for each additional violation within 12 months of the first. Each day that a violation occurs is considered a separate offense. Repeated violations could lead to the suspension or even revocation of a business license.

Those speaking during a public hearing on the proposed ordinance two weeks ago split, 50-50, in favor and against the plastic bag ban, with some speaking to the environmental benefits of the ban while others said their businesses would be adversely affected financially if the ban were enacted.

Also tonight, council will consider first reading of an ordinance approving an application for a special property tax assessment for an historic property at 1025 Broad St., the building recently purchased by former councilwoman Laurie Parks and her husband from Billy Silver that once served as a bank building and was most recently the home of Roxie Hart salon.

The Parks, who are making the request as P&P Investment, are doing so under what is known as the Bailey Bill, which allows the city to assess the property differently from other properties. To qualify, the owner of a historic property must spend at least 20 percent of the building’s fair market value on historic rehabilitation.

According to a memo attached to tonight’s agenda, the assessed value of the building is $270,000, while the cost estimate for the work the Parks plan to perform is $245,000, or 91 percent of the assessed value. The building is listed on the city’s historic property rolls and the National Register of Historic Places and is within a National Register historic district.

According to a project overview included with tonight’s agenda, the Parks plan to perform general clean up and interior demolitionl environmental (asbestos) investigation; examine and repair the truss system; investigate and repair roof leaks; install a new roof over Silver’s former living quarters; redesign/construct an existing mechanical room; possibly relocate the building’s HVAC package; install a new electrical infrastructure after investigating and eliminating/repairing any existing hazards; repair all leaks, etc., and install a new hot water on demand system as well as repair or replace any dysfunctional sewer lines and water supply to the building; and perform light demolition and reconstruction of the interior.

The latter would include constructing an Americans With Disabilities Act-compliant restrooms, refurbishing walls and ceilings, removing old flooring and installing new flooring, and installing new light and plumbing fixtures.

The plan calls for the main front façade to be left in its current state and design, but pressure wash and repair old sign and hardware attachment holes to match the existing original building material. Existing first floor windows and entry doors will be prepped for painting. The living quarters will have current windows, frames and sashes repaired using like-kind material. For the rear façade, there are plans to make some changes to the second floor entry.

The Parks have yet to officially announce what type of business may take over the first floor.

In other business on tonight’s agenda:

• the Red Cross’ Gerald Jennings will present a Red Cross Lifesaver Award;

• council will consider proclamations recognizing newly crowned Miss Camden 2019 Joy DeWitt and Miss Camden Teen 2019 Maggie Knotts;

• council will consider proclaiming March 18-24 as Boykin-Spaniel Week;

• council will consider second reading of an ordinance approving a rezoning request of adjoining properties at 401 and 403 Dicey Ford Road from R-15 (residential) to Limited Business District; and

• council will consider resolutions authorizing the consumption of beer and wine at Habitat for Humanities’ Shaggin’ on the Green event and during Finally Friday.

Council will also enter executive session to discuss potential real estate and contractual matters.

The agenda then reads, “Action on matters relating to the discussion of potential real estate and contractual matters.” However, such items do not necessarily require council take any action after coming out of executive session.

Today’s meeting will begin at 6 p.m. on the second floor of Camden City Hall, 1000 Lyttleton St., and is open to the public.