Balloon release ban sought in Eatontown

By Coleen Burnett

Eatontown — Councilwoman Jasmine Story has proposed an ordinance that would ban the intentional release of balloons in the borough.

The ban, which would also extended to so-called “luminary lanterns,” was first proposed in a workshop session on June 26. It has received the blessings of both the Green Team and the Environmental Commission.

“We’re asking the borough to move forward with directing {Borough Attorney} Gene Anthony to draft an ordinance,” said Story.

The idea for the ordinance is to help protect marine and animal wildlife from swallowing the balloons and also to prevent fires if the balloons get caught in overhead wires. Luminary lanterns are particularly vulnerable to the latter because they contain small candles.

The borough doesn’t want to spoil the party, per se. Helium balloons can be given out for an event, but must be attached to a weight to keep them from floating up. There is an exception for meteorological balloons, hot air balloons, and balloons that are released indoors.

Violators would be subject to a fine not exceeding $2,000.00 and be imprisoned for a term not to exceed 90 days.

Councilwoman Jen Sherrod was all in favor of the ban. But she was also concerned about how the word would get out after the ban goes into effect. “How do we communicate this? It might happen at a wedding. It might happen at a birthday party,” she said.

Mayor Anthony Talerico said he was thinking the same thing. “I was thinking we could notify the churches, the Sheraton Hotel, just to let them know. People who apply to use our [Wampum Park] Pavilion for a corporate event — we could simply attach a notice on the [contract].”

In other nearby towns which have passed balloon release ordinances, officials have said that it is aimed at intentional releases of balloons such as at special events, and that police would not cite a child who accidentally let go of one.

A first reading and preliminary introduction of the ordinance is scheduled for the July 10 council meeting.

A public hearing is scheduled for July 24.