For BOS, Bottled Water Ban Isn't Crystal Clear
At Monday night's Board of Selectmen's meeting, the board talked about taking no position, but wrestled with responsibilities relative to the proposed Drinking Water in Single-Serving PET Bottles Bylaw. Also, the Board heralded a holocaust proclamation.
Much Ado About Water
One warrant article that has been getting special attention the past few months is the proposed ban on single-serving water bottles in Concord.
And on Monday, the Selectmen took some time to discuss the issue, why they will be taking no position on this controversial piece of legislation and whether to issue some sort of statment relative to the proposal.
Selectman Jeff Wieand kicked things off by stating he hopes the board would take no position, the same as it did last year.
"This issue is up to the community and what they value," he said. "I said it last year and I'll say it again: There are legitimate concerns on either side of the issue. ... We don't want to send the wrong message to take a position on this issue as it could lead to supporting or not supporting legislation and even future litigation and we should let the Town decide.”
Town Manager Chris Whelan, however, cautioned that if officials do not define how they feel on the matter, others could do it for them.
"I think the article is fairly well-written and makes a valid and positive point," he said. "The real question is: Will this solve the problem with our government getting involved like this? Any act that takes away something from citizens is a powerful act. We need to be clear about the goal here. Are we trying to remove plastics? This law doesn't show any metrics to forward that aspect. If we look at this law at all levels, it isn't good legislation although it is noble. The law doesn't justify taking away our citizen's liberties.”
Whelan's opinions pushed the board to make a direct statement about the policy, which will be done after soliciting input from the community.
Selectmen Chairwoman Elise Woodward offered: “There are moral reasons to take one side of this issue, fair water trade specifically,, but there are real concerns from our business community and taking away civil rights.”
Whelan posed the question: “What will we have to show for it? It is [the petitioner's] hope to minimize and reduce our use of plastics. But, I don't think this law will show that.”
Selectman Greg Howes, sided with Whelan's understanding of an unclear goal, saying the proposal fails to meet the definition of good legislation. “Anytime a law asks a citizen to give up a right, it should be clearly explained why and what will come of it, but, this legislation doesn't do that," he said.
Selectmen Stanly Black, who agreed with the overall idea of making a statement, said adopting this policy "could be more damaging and hurtful in the long run," and he would have voted against it. "If I wasn't sitting at this table, I would be inclined to vote for it, but I just don't think it's best for the town," he said.
The final selectman to voice her opinion, Carmen Reiss, added: “We need to talk about the financial input from and impact on merchants. We should craft a list to clearly state the pros and cons.”
Although every selectmen had their own opinion on the issue, ultimately, the board decided that taking no position was in the town's best interest. However, before closing the discussion, the selectmen agreed to draft a statement after circulating for comments throughout the community. The selectmen will express their insights at Town Meeting.
Selectmen Proclaim Holocaust Tribute
In conjunction with an Act of Congress, the selectmen proclaimed that on April 15 through April 22, Concord will recognize a remembrance week examining the genocide caused by the Nazis from 1933 to 1945.
In association with this special week, the selectmen announced, in memory of the victims of the Holocaust, an end-of-the-week commemoration ceremony. The ceremony will be held April 22 at the Town House at 7:30 p.m. There will be and information session with a Holocaust survivor set to speak. The selectmen encourage the entire town to take part in the proceedings.