Fairfax County officials yesterday decided to postpone enforcement of a controversial beverage container ordianance until the Virginia Supreme Court hears an appeal this afternoon to block the law.
The ordinance bans the sale of carbonated, nonalchoholic drings in pop-to cans and requires at least a 5-cent refund on used nonreturnable bottles and cans, containing such beverages. While it technically went into effect at midnight county officials decided at a meeting yesterday that "it would be wise to wait on the Supreme Court" before beginning enforcement of the ordiance, according to Assistant County Attorney Robert Flinn.
The controversy surrounding the ordinance has not yet fizzled among local grocery store managers, however. They were deciding yesterday on varying courses of action to cope with the ordinance if the state Supreme Court upholds it.
While many local and chain store groceies are adopting a holding pattern until the court reaches a decision. Fairfax County Safeway stores planned to clear all but one brand of nonreturnable soft drinks from their store shelves last night.
According to Safeway spokesman Ernie Moore, only the 64-ounce size of a "house brand" called Cragmont would be left on the shelves this morning. Its price will be increased by 5 cents.
According to Moore, the 64-ounce size was the only one large enough to be properly labeled with the required "Washington Metropolitan Area, 5-cent refund" sticker. Moore said that the label must be placed on the bottle in such a way as to not cover the label bearing the brand name of the beverage.
Safeway also was planning to clear its shelves of cans that do not have pop tops, which nevertheless were difficult to properly label, Moore said. "It becomes very labor intensive, after a while," Moore said. "I mean, it's a lot of hard work."
The Giant Food stores were taking a more cautious approach. According to a company spokesman, shelves of nonreturnable bottles were to be wrapped in plastic last night while prospective consumers would be warned away by a sign reading, "Due to the Fairfax County beverage container ordinance, it is impractical at this time for us to sell nonreturnable beverage containers."
The 86 7-Eleven stores in Fairfax also are awaiting the decision of the Virginia Supreme Court, and have not yet decided whether to discontinue the sale of beverages in nonreturnable bottles or to sell them with an increased price and the appropriate refund label.
According to Morris Wheeler, merchandising manager for the Southland Corp., which does business as 7-Eleven, the stores "will comply with the law, which I guess is what they think this ordinance is."