Feedback wanted in Wilmington

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WILMINGTON — This community could be the next in a growing list to ban plastic bags or have retailers charge an extra fee to customers who want one.

The idea was recently introduced by Select Board member Sarah Fisher, who heard about other communities banning bags in news reports.

"Brattleboro just did it," she said. "I thought maybe Wilmington would be interested in doing something like that. I think it's probably a good thing."

Fisher said bans on plastic bags and straws are happening out of environmental concern.

"I think anything we can do to better our land is better for the world," she said.

Fisher said she believes most of the other Select Board members are "on board" with the ban but they want to work with the community and business owners to see how to proceed.

An agenda item for the Aug. 7 meeting was "to discuss possibly adopting an ordinance banning single-use plastic bags." But the meeting was "pretty quiet," said Fisher.

"I think the board is interested in pursuing this," she said. "You know, no one was like, 'Absolutely no.' I was actually floored, in a good way."

Town Manager Scott Tucker said Select Board members want to have more conversation about an ordinance and include representatives from retail establishments that might be affected. Town officials were notifying business owners and managers.

Town Administrative Assistant Jessica DeFrancesco said she expected the topic to come up at the board's Sept. 4 meeting.

"It's definitely in the beginning stages," Fisher said. "It just feels like it's the right thing to do."

Meg Staloff, program coordinator for downtown organization Wilmington Works, said she hopes to get information to downtown merchants so they can give feedback to the board.

"We might go as far as sending out a survey if that seems appropriate to determine how many merchants feel they would be impacted by a ban," she said, adding that boutiques may be less affected than some would anticipate.

Staloff said the greatest impact would likely be on chain stores outside of the designated downtown area such as Shaw's, Family Dollar and Rite Aid.

With the latter two already having stores in Brattleboro, she said, the fear factor could be lessened.

Reach staff writer Chris Mays at cmays@reformer.com, at @CMaysBR on Twitter and 802-254-2311, ext. 273.

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