Southern Shores council plans for resolution prohibiting balloon releases

Published 4:14 pm Tuesday, April 23, 2024

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Southern Shores agreed to draft a resolution that would create an ordinance prohibiting the release of balloons in town.

Debbie Swick, who is on a campaign to bring awareness to the environmental issues caused by celebratory balloon releases, has garnered almost 2,000 signatures in a petition on to send to the NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, NC General Assembly, and the NC Association of Realtors.

Swick says that it takes over 100 years for a Mylar balloon to decompose, and almost five years for a latex balloon. Released balloons can travel hundreds of miles, ending up in forests, farms and in our ocean, affecting animal life.

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She calls balloon releases littering, and considers it a “major and devastating problem.”

At the Southern Shores Town Council meeting on April 9, council members agreed to draft a resolution opposing balloon releases.

While council member Mark Batenic questioned the enforceability of an ordinance, Mayor Elizabeth Morey said that she’s hopeful that the increased awareness will make a difference.

“It’s a self-enforcement for the most part. You have to choose to do what you’re supposed to do – what the law says you’re supposed to do,” said Morey.

A resolution will be voted on in the May council meeting.

Next, council approved an amendment to the town code that would require a lot disturbance permit for removing trees greater than six inches in diameter, and measured at four and a half feet above grade. This would apply to vacant or undisturbed lots.

The penalty for not obtaining a permit would be up to $500 per tree.

Council member Matt Neal asked about emergency tree removal, such as after a storm, but deputy town manager Wes Haskett said there was nothing in the ordinance that discussed this, however permits can be issued by the town quickly. Haskett said that he doesn’t anticipate any pushback from members of the development community.