The Rockport Select Board discussed a proposal which would ban the use of Styrofoam takeout containers by retail vendors on Aug. 13. The ban would apply to any food or beverage containers made of expanded polystyrene foam used for both onsite and offsite consumption.

A draft of the ban was written and presented to the board earlier in the year by Frances Woodworth, then a senior at Camden Hills Regional High School. Since then the document was reviewed and annotated by the town's legal counsel, Phil Saucier. If the ban is placed on the November ballot, it would go into effect on Jan. 1, 2019. As the select board began discussing the revised document, chairman Doug Cole suggested that the ban be placed on the agenda for the public hearing that will be held at the Rockport Opera House on Aug. 27.

"[Woodworth] did a lot of work on this ordinance by going out and talking to the businesses, she made an excellent presentation to the board and I think the board was very strong on the concept at the time. Now we've gotten the lawyers to look at this and I'm in favor of it…and it seems like a lot of the businesses are on board with doing this anyway," said Selectman Ken McKinley.

The revised ordinance would prevent vendors from serving or selling prepared food in Styrofoam containers and would extend to banning the use of such containers by the town of Rockport at public events. The town manager, Rick Bates, would have primary responsibility for enforcing the ordinance, and for the first six months of the ban being enacted any violations would receive a verbal warning.

After six months, a written notice requesting compliance with the ordinance would be sent to vendors, and subsequent violations would be subject to a fine. The proposed fine would not exceed $250 per violation. Those who fail to comply with the ordinance would also be responsible for reimbursement of the town's legal fees and costs of prosecution for each violation.

The proposal states that the town has a responsibility to protect the natural environment and that Styrofoam packaging has a harsh impact on the environment on a local and global scale:

"It is in the best interest of the citizens of Rockport to protect the environment and natural resources by prohibiting the distribution and use of disposable expanded polystyrene cups, plates, bowls, coolers, and food containers and to require the use of food containers made of other materials associated with all takeout foods defined in this section."

Following a discussion of the ordinance, select board member Debra Hall moved to hold a public hearing on Aug. 27 at a meeting of the board in the Geoffrey C. Parker room of the Rockport Opera House. Board members said they expect the article to appear on the November ballot and be voted on by residents via secret ballot.