The city of Bexley's single-use plastics ban and other environmental initiatives continue to be on hold indefinitely because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, Mayor Ben Kessler said May 19 during a meeting of the city's environmental-sustainability advisory committee, which advises city officials about how to implement environmentally friendly initiatives.

Last spring, Bexley and Cuyahoga County became the first two government entities in Ohio to adopt single-use plastic bans.

On May 29, 2019, Bexley City Council unanimously approved Ordinance 14-19, which banned plastic grocery and carryout bags at all businesses within Bexley city limits and at all city facilities and city-sponsored events beginning Jan. 1, 2020.

In mid-March, Kessler suspended the ban in an effort to help control the spread of COVID-19.

"Until we're at a point where we don't have community spread (of the coronavirus), that's probably going to be on hold," he said of the plastics ban.

Committee chairwoman Elizabeth Ellman said the city also has postponed a meeting with restaurant owners about the ban's second phase, which would prohibit single-use plastic utensils at Bexley restaurants beginning Jan. 1, 2021.

Ellman said the city is allowing time for restaurants, which had to close for several reasons because of state orders, to reinstate indoor dining, which the state began allowing May 21.

The meeting with restaurant owners about the plastics ban had been planned for late May, Ellman said.

"They just began opening up, so we didn't think that was a good time," she said.

Ellman said the committee tentatively has postponed until September its annual Green Bexley Fair, an event designed to educate the community about recycling, composting and other environmental initiatives.

Kessler said the city also has postponed enrollment in its residential-property-assessed clean-energy program, which City Council approved last year and was scheduled to officially launch in the first half of 2020.

In other business, Kessler is requesting residents interested in joining the environmental committee to email him at bkessler@bexley.org by May 31.

Legislation council approved April 28 sets forth a new structure for the committee, which was formed in 2018. The ordinance, which goes into effect July 1, states leadership of the group will be appointed by the mayor, rather than all 15 members.

Once the mayor has appointed the chairman, vice chairman and at-large member and council has approved the mayor's appointments, the rest of the membership will be selected by Bexley City Schools, Capital University, Columbus School for Girls, St. Charles Preparatory School, the Bexley Public Library and the Bexley Area Chamber of Commerce.

"The rationale was to allow the ESAC to be a more informal body," Kessler said. "Right now, there is a formal appointment system, and yet we have a lot of members who weren't formally appointed who are still contributory. So this allows ESAC to be a more organic (organization)."

For additional information, go to greenbexley.org.

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