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Concord resident seeks to repeal plastic water bottle ban

Posted by Leslie Anderson  October 11, 2013 02:21 PM

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For the fifth time in four years, Concord residents will vote on the sale of plastic water bottles in town.

Resident Michael Benn has submitted a citizen’s petition for the Dec. 4 special Town Meeting seeking to repeal the controversial bylaw that bans the sale of single-serving plastic water bottles in Concord. Benn needed 100 signatures to get the article on the warrant; Town Clerk Anita Tekle certified 149.

Benn said he thinks the repeal has a better chance of passing this time. He said the ban will have been in place almost a year by the time the vote comes up so there will be more solid data available about the impact on businesses.

Benn said he filed the petition on his own as a Concord resident and not as a representative of any group, because it doesn’t serve the best interest of the town.

“I don’t even drink bottled water,’’ Benn said. “I’m not trying to protect the bottled water industry, I’m trying to protect common sense.’’

Residents approved the bylaw at Town Meeting in April 2012. It was approved by the attorney general’s office later that year and went into effect on Jan. 1, 2013. Since then, restaurants, stores and other establishments have not been allowed to sell single-serving plastic bottles of water.

A first effort to repeal the ban was put forward in April 2013 but it was narrowly defeated by a vote of 621 to 687.

The proposal first came up in April 2010 when resident Jean Hill submitted a petition to ban the water bottles. It was approved at Town Meeting but the ban was not written as a bylaw, and was rejected by the attorney general’s office.

It failed after a second vote in April 2011, 265 to 272, and then passed a year later by a vote of 403 to 364.

“All the votes have been close and that’s what’s driving this divisive issue,’’ Tekle said.

Supporters pushed the ban as a way to reduce waste and improve the environment, while opponents say it takes away the freedom of choice, hurts businesses and encourages consumers to drink less healthy alternatives such as soda.

There are three articles on the special Town Meeting warrant. The others are related to
a land purchase for a school bus transportation facility and an easement for the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail.

The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 4 at Concord-Carlisle Regional High School.

Jennifer Fenn Lefferts can be reached at jflefferts@yahoo.com.

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