This spring, Martha’s Vineyard voters will get a chance to weigh in on a proposed ban on single use plastic bags, a small but meaningful environmental step that our sister island of Nantucket took a full twenty-five years ago.

Oops, make that voters in every town except Oak Bluffs.

In a stunning about-face, the Oak Bluffs selectmen this week caved to pressure from a vocal group of business owners and removed from the town meeting warrant an article they themselves had approved unanimously in December.

Quite apart from the merits of the proposal, the timing of the selectmen’s action leaves the proponents of the bag ban, led by the Vineyard Conservation Society, with no way to get the measure back on the warrant for the annual town meeting on April 12. Had the selectmen refused to sponsor the warrant when asked in December, proponents could easily have taken the alternate route of putting the issue on the ballot by petition of just 10 voters.

The proposed bylaw would eliminate the use of the thin plastic bags that are commonly given to consumers at check-out. Though undeniably convenient, their very lightness makes them difficult to recycle, and the plastic is not just unsightly but hazardous to marine life as it breaks down. All one really needs to know is that waste haulers on Martha’s Vineyard refuse to accept single use bags into their recycling streams.

Some critics of the proposal who appeared before the Oak Bluffs selectmen on Tuesday questioned the environmental science, but their bigger concern was economic, claiming they would suffer from the cost of switching to other types of bags.

In a particularly odd spin on the issue, former selectman and business owner Todd Rebello said Oak Bluffs is different from other towns that have banned plastic bags because tourists won’t come equipped with reusable bags to haul off their goods. Another entrepreneur might reasonably take the same information and see a new business opportunity.

In any case, the proposed ban would not take effect until Jan. 1, 2017, giving businesses ample time to use up their inventories and switch to a new process.

Would it take some adjustment to return to the pre-1970s days when shoppers used paper bags or brought their own? Sure. Would it cause consumers to flee Oak Bluffs shops when they find their carry-outs have changed? Doubtful. And isn’t it really up to voters, not the selectmen, to decide the issue? Absolutely.