Greenville ban on mass balloon releases fails 4-3 with mayor’s vote

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – A proposed ordinance banning mass balloon releases within the Greenville City limits got deflated at Monday night’s regular city council meeting by a 4-3 vote with Greenville Mayor P.J. Connelly casting the tie-breaking vote after the council split 3-3.

City Councilwoman Marion Blackburn introduced the proposed ordinance explaining that the materials left behind when the balloons eventually fall back to earth harm the environment and can also be health hazards for both people and wildlife.

“The material in these balloons biodegrade to nano plastics,” said Blackburn holding up several deflated balloon remnants. “It’s harmful to wildlife and to human beings, there are health implications”

The proposed ordinance would have made it illegal for a person or group of people to intentionally release more than 10 balloons outdoors at any one time or in any other way at any other interval within a 24-hour period.

The proposed civil penalty would have been a $100 fine. Blackburn said she did not want to propose a criminal penalty.

“This is not the place of government, it is not a good use of our resources,” said Councilman Will Bell speaking against the proposal. “We have unsolved murders in our community and we are talking about using police to enforce a balloon ban.”

Three members of the public spoke in favor of the proposal during the public comments section of the meeting each saying that littering is littering, with one resident comparing a balloon release to throwing a coke bottle out of a car.

No members of the public spoke against the proposal at the meeting.

Mayor Connelly asked for a show of hands in the vote, with the council splitting on a 3-3 vote, with council members Daniels and Smiley joining Blackburn in supporting the proposal and council members Glover and Robinson joining Bell in dissent. Connelly then cast the deciding “no” vote and the proposed ordinance failed.