[HISTORY: Adopted by the Suffolk County Legislature 8-6-2002 by L.L. No. 17-2002 (Ch. 219 of the 1985 Code). Amendments noted where applicable. Uncodified sections of local laws amending these provisions are included at the end of this chapter.]
This Legislature hereby finds that the release of helium and other lighter-than-air balloons into the atmosphere has a deleterious effect on the environment when the balloons inevitably deflate.
This Legislature also finds and determines that these balloons, many of which land in the ocean or Long Island Sound, represent the most common form of floating garbage and flotsam within 200 miles of the shore.
This Legislature further finds and determines that the effect that this pollution has on marine life is incalculable at the present time and that research has indicated that marine life and animals ingest these balloons as they appear near the surface because they believe they are spotting jellyfish or other edible resources.
This Legislature finds that since animals and marine life are not able to process the balloons, they will either choke on the balloon or the balloon will form an intestinal obstruction, either of which will sentence these animals and marine life to a painful death.
This Legislature also determines that Mylar and latex balloons which have washed ashore are a source of pollution which Suffolk County should decrease in order to eliminate the pollution, improve the County's aesthetics, and reduce the amount of flotsam endangering marine and animal life.
Therefore, the purpose of this chapter is to prohibit the release of helium or lighter-than-air balloons into the atmosphere within the County of Suffolk in order to protect the air, land, and waters of Suffolk County against environmental contamination and degradation and to protect the health and life of animals, birds, and fish.
No person, nonprofit organization, firm, corporation, or municipality shall knowingly release, organize the release of, condone the release of, or intentionally cause to be released into the atmosphere, within a twenty-four-hour period, 25 or more helium or lighter-than-air gas balloons within the County of Suffolk.
Any business organization, including, but not limited to, any individual, corporation, unincorporated association, proprietorship, firm, partnership, joint venture, joint-stock association, or other entity of any kind who or which sells or offers for sale helium or lighter-than-air gas balloons to any person within the County of Suffolk for compensation shall disclose, in writing, the restrictions set forth in § 310-2 of this chapter by conspicuously posting a statement of these restrictions at each point of sale (all capital letters not less than two inches in height on a contrasting background). This statement shall read as follows:
This chapter shall be enforced by the Suffolk County Department of Health Services in accordance with the provisions of Article II, §§ 760-202 through 760-220, of the Suffolk County Sanitary Code.
Willful failure to comply with §§ 310-2 and/or 310-3 of this chapter shall constitute a violation punishable by a civil fine of $500 for each violation. A second conviction for a violation of §§ 310-2 and/or 310-3 of this chapter, after having been convicted of a violation of §§ 310-2 and/or 310-3 of this chapter within the past two years, shall be punishable by a civil fine of $750. A third or any subsequent conviction for a violation of §§ 310-2 and/or 310-3 of this chapter, after having been twice or more convicted of same, within the last five years, shall be punishable by a civil fine of $1,000.
Each day that a violation continues or exists shall constitute a separate violation and be punishable by an additional civil penalty of $500, $750, or $1,000, as the case may be, for each and every subsequent day during which each such violation continues.
Any civil penalty may only be assessed by the Commissioner of Health Services following a hearing and opportunity for an alleged violator to be heard.
The Commissioner of the County Department of Health Services is hereby authorized and empowered to issue and promulgate such rules and regulations as he or she deems necessary to implement and carry out the provisions of this chapter.
This chapter shall apply to the sale, distribution, or use of helium or lighter-than-air gas balloons in Suffolk County occurring on or after the effective date of this chapter.
This chapter shall not apply to a release of balloons made on behalf of a government agency or pursuant to a government contract for scientific or meteorological purposes.
This chapter shall be null and void on the day that statewide or federal legislation goes into effect, incorporating either the same or substantially similar provisions as are contained in this chapter, or in the event that a pertinent state or federal administrative agency issues and promulgates regulations preempting such action by the County of Suffolk. The County Legislature may determine via mere resolution whether or not identical or substantially similar statewide legislation has been enacted for the purposes of triggering the provisions of this section.
This chapter shall take effect on the 180th day after filing in the office of the Secretary of State.