Concord’s annual Town Meeting has voted down Article 30, a petitioner’s bid to repeal the town’s landmark bylaw banning the sale of single-serve bottled water, which was approved last year and took effect Jan. 1.
Depending on how you look at it, the vote came either after a little less than an hour of debate, or a little more than three years and one hour of debate.
Either way, 1,333 voters turned out for Concord’s annual Town Meeting on Wednesday, April 24 as the town’s legislative body considered a bottled water ban for the fourth consecutive year. Article 30 failed by 66 votes.
Almost immediately, dozens of residents lined up behind microphones to speak for and against the ban. And many were still in line when the question was called — including Jean Hill, the woman introduced the words “bottle ban” into Concord’s lexicon four Town Meetings ago.
Many of those who supported repealling the ban spoke about the loss of choice and inconvenience to residents and harm to local merchants who may lose business as residents who want to buy single-serve bottled water must go out of town to do so.
“A forced choice is not a choice at all,” said Robin Garrison, the petitioner behind the article to repeal the bottle bylaw. “Concord’s ban is not leading the way. We’re trying to drag people.”
Those who spoke in favor of keeping the bylaw noted the environmental merits of reducing consumption of an “unnecessary” product and said the four months the bylaw has been in place are too small a sample size to judge any econmic impact it has had in town.
“The ban is a small step on a long worthy march, but let’s give it a chance,” said Selectman Stanly Black, whose board voted 4-1 against repealing the bylaw. “The idea, like the bottle companies fear, just might catch on.”
Meanwhile, in Arlington, a special Town Meeting voted down a bid by three Arlington High seniors to outlaw the sale of single-serving water bottles after 25 minutes of debate and a voice vote.