Img_9701_2A plastic shopping bag flutters in a tree on Monmouth Street recently.

It’s not quite the far-reaching approach that its sponsor, Councilman Mike DuPont, first proposed late last year.

But an ordinance that DuPont thinks will enable Red Bank to begin to get control over the scourge of flyaway plastic grocery bags appears headed for approval by the governing body.

A public hearing and vote on the ordinance is scheduled for tonight’s 5:30p meeting. Here’s the full text: Download plast_bag_ordinance.pdf

“We have a number of environmental assets here in Red Bank, including the river and open space, and plastic bags are certainly a bane to those assets,” DuPont said when he introduced the revised ordinance Feb. 27.

If enacted, the law would require merchants to provide bins in which customers could deposit used recyclable bags by June 1, and for those stores that use non-compostable or non-recyclable bags to take those bags back as well. Stores would also be responsible for recycling those materials or making them sanitary for reuse.

The proposed ordinance replaces one that appeared on a council agenda for introduction in late November, but was pulled when Mayor Pasquale Menna suggested there be more input from affected merchants first.

Unmentioned at the reintroduction was that the reach of the law has been dialed back. What’s different from one version to the next? The original one (which for some reason is no longer on the borough website) would have additionally required stores to gradually phase out plastic bags entirely and use only recyclable, compostable or reusable bags by June, 2009.

DuPont says the change was not as a result of any objections by merchants, who he says have gotten behind the idea in general. Rather, after input from the borough Environmental Commission, DuPont said he decided to “cut it back a little bit” in order to phase in the concept.

As for the outright elimination of plastic bags, “I still think that is going to happen,” DuPont told redbankgreen recently.”I still think the stores are willing to do that.”

At the time the initial version was introduced, Councilman John Curley raised objections, questioning whether bag regulation was best handled by municipalities instead of a statewide approach.

He voted in favor of introducing the revised ordinance last month.

Also on tonight’s agenda:

• An ordinance making permit-parking a round-the-clock reality on Hudson Avenue.

• The appointment of Jorge Torres as a probationary police officer.

• A resolution accepting a negotiated settlement of a tax appeal, reducing the assessment on the Greentree Apartments complex on Spring Street from $8.6 million to $7 million for tax year 2007, and a reduction for 2006 as well.

• A resolution to hire Peter Sockler as an expert apparaiser. (The link from the agenda to the document is bad, so we don’t know the particulars on this one.)

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