Eatontown introduces law banning release of certain balloons, sky lanterns

EATONTOWN – Members of the Eatontown Borough Council have introduced an ordinance that would, if adopted, prohibit the release of certain balloons and aerial luminaries in the borough.

A public hearing will be held on Aug. 28.

Residents may comment on or ask questions about the ordinance that time. The ordinance may be adopted that evening following the public hearing.

During a council meeting on July 10, members of the governing body voted to introduce the ordinance that seeks to regulate the conditions under which balloons may be released into the atmosphere and prohibit the release of aerial luminaries, or sky lanterns.

According to the ordinance, the new law, if enacted, would help “protect the environment, particularly the wildlife, and the health, safety and well-being of persons and property by prohibiting the release of aerial luminary lanterns and helium balloons into the atmosphere. The balloons include latex and Mylar … Balloons inflated with lighter-than-air gases pose a danger and nuisance to the environment.

“ …. When Mylar balloons contact a power line their metallic properties can cause the equipment to short-circuit. The spark could lead to a power outage and/or fire. These balloons tend to constitute a public nuisance and may pose a threat to the safety of its inhabitants and their property. Aerial luminaries can cause fires and also eventually return to Earth as litter,” the ordinance states.

According to the ordinance, when helium balloons are distributed, they must be attached to a weight. Balloons may only be released for scientific or meteorological purposes; indoors; or are hot air balloons that are recovered after launching.

Violators of the ordinance as it relates to balloons would be subject to a fine of up to $2,000, imprisonment up to 90 days and/or up to 90 days of community service. Each day a violation continues will be considered a separate violation, according to the ordinance.

The release of aerial luminary lanterns is prohibited. The law, if enacted, carries the same penalties.