Oak Bluffs voters will face a choice this spring for how best to reduce the use of plastic in town — by appointing a working group to study the issue for a year, or adopting an outright ban on the sale of small-sized plastic bottles.

Selectmen voted Tuesday night to put two separate articles on the annual town meeting warrant in April.

One authored by the student-based group Plastic Free MV seeks a bylaw banning the sale of all plastic bottles less than 34 ounces. The same bylaw was adopted by up-Island towns last year and is due to take effect this spring.

But with the plastic bottle ban facing an uphill battle in the more commercial down-Island towns, a group of Oak Bluffs business owners came before the selectmen Tuesday with an alternative proposal that aims to develop a long-range plan to manage the reduction of plastic. Drafted by a group of business owners, the bylaw calls for appointing a seven-member committee to come up with an action plan by May 2021.

“The purpose of this bylaw is to create a balanced approach between environmental stewardship and the economic impact in our community,” it says in part.

Luke Debettencourt, owner of the Corner Store on Circuit avenue, and Bill Giordano, whose family owns Giordano’s Restaurant, appeared before the selectmen Tuesday as backers of the alternative bylaw. “With the help of the students we’d like to look towards the future and reduce the amount of plastic by using better alternative products,” Mr. Giordano said.

Plastic Free MV students were also on hand at the meeting to press their cause.

“We’re running out of time. We can’t just form a committee and talk about this for another year. We have to do something today,” said Finn Robinson, a student from the charter school.

Selectmen praised the initiative of both groups and said they would put both articles on the warrant, allowing voters to decide the matter.

“Nothing happens as quickly as you want it to, you have to accept that this is a step forward . . . at least it’s a start,” said selectman Greg Coogan told the students.

In other business, selectmen voted to approve a year-round liquor license for the Sweet Life Café. The Circuit avenue restaurant is owned by Erin and Hal Ryerson who are in their third year of ownership. “We did our longest season yet this past year. We loved it, and this feels like the next step. We would love to serve the community and be there all the time,” Ms. Ryerson said.
Also Tuesday, town administrator Robert Whritenour said he had compiled estimated numbers from the new short-term rental tax that took effect last year. Mr. Whritenour said the tax produced about $399,000 in new revenue for the town.