ADAMS, Mass. — There has been an interesting cat-and-mouse game going on between some residents and the town's Code Enforcement Office regarding tag sales.
Although the practice has been reinstated by the governor as part of Phase III of his COVID-19 reopening plan, the town of Adams has yet to allow tag sales within its borders. Hours after a brightly colored sign goes up on a utility pole advertising a tag sale, it is often being removed.
The board revisited the issue Wednesday but decided the moratorium on tag sales should continue in the interest of public health. The town had already canceled its annual townwide tag sale but has seen an uptick recently in rogue tag sales and felt it was best to open it up again for discussion.
"Whereas some other communities have seen their [COVID-19] numbers increase, Adams is still at zero as of tonight," said Code Enforcement Officer Mark Blaisdell. "Tag sales do attract people from other communities so that's something else to think about whether or not we want to do tag sales. We know our community, we're responsible for our community."
Blaisdell said anyone holding a tag sale will most likely get a certified letter in the mail with a warning and could be fined up to $50 for any further violations.
The governor had also eased restrictions on single-use plastic bags in response to the temporary ban on reusable totes when COVID-19 struck. Adams has been plastic-bag free since 2016 but since the pandemic hit it has not been enforcing the ban in an effort to be more business friendly. While Gov. Charlie Baker reinstated the use of reusable totes two weeks ago, some municipalities are giving shops time to run through their supply of plastic bags before they start enforcing a plastic-bag ban once more.
This will not be the case in Adams as a motion by Selectman Richard Blanchard to extend the moratorium on enforcing the plastic-bag ban was not seconded. Blanchard said one reason for his motion was a recent visit to a local vendor.
"I saw the news article about the governor rescinding the order so I grabbed my bags the next time I was going shopping. I was upset because [it turned out] I couldn't use them. The clerk said it was the store's policy for their safety that they don't have to handle my bags," he said.
Blaisdell said he has not received any complaints regarding the use of plastic bags since the governor rescinded prohibition on reusable bags on July 12.
Town Administrator Jay Green mentioned an upcoming Board of Health meeting on Aug. 5 regarding retail tobacco regulations. The board has been debating a cap on tobacco sales licenses along with some limits on where tobacco products can be sold in relation to schools among other changes. Green urged the Selectmen and residents to participate in the process and make sure they understand the proposed changes.
"The Board of Health has the obligations for the public health in the community. Also, in my experience as chairman of the Board of Health in Pittsfield, I learned that there was a pretty significant [correlation] between economic development and a business desiring to use tobacco as a source of revenue for their business," Green said. "I would encourage the Board of Selectmen to please participate in that process, review those regulations, and ensure that, if we have businesses that want to come to town that use tobacco, right, wrong, or indifferent, that perhaps there is a provision in there to allow the Board of Health to take those conditions into consideration.
"I think it's incumbent upon me, as town administrator, to encourage the collaboration between two independent boards."
The next regular meeting of the Adams Board of Selectmen will be Wednesday, July 29, at 6 p.m. and will be held virtually. Visit the town website for login information.