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Proposed Bottled Water Ban Defeated

Article 38 failed by seven votes.

Bottled water will continue to be sold in Concord.

After an hour long debate at Town Meeting Tuesday, residents narrowly defeated Article 38, 272-265.

The article, petitioned by resident Jean Hill, would have changed the town bylaws to ban the sale of “non-sparkling, unflavored drinking water in single-serving polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles of 1 liter (34 ounces) or less” as of Jan. 1, 2012.

A similar article passed at last year’s Town Meeting. However, it was unable to be enforced, according to the state Attorney General’s office, because it did not specifically change the town bylaws.

On Tuesday, about eight residents spoke on each side of the issue before the question was called at 10:45 p.m.

Tom First, head of Nantucket Nectars and owater, opposed the article for a number of reasons.

“[The proposal] doesn’t address the real issue of recycling and conservation at all,” he said.

First said the article would also take away residents’ choice and hurt local merchants. Even though the article called for the ban to be lifted in emergency situations, First and other residents feared that once an emergency hit, it would already be too late to find an adequate supply. He also said some people, such as some cancer patients, require bottled water.

Hill and Jill Appel, who also backed the article, argued for the ban based on environmental and social reasons.

“Let’s be role models for our visitors and inspire other communities to take action,” Appel said.

Resident Mary White, who supported the article, said it seemed appropriate for Concord to set the precedent.

“Concord has a history of revolutionary actions,” she told residents before the vote.

Most residents who opposed the article said it was too drastic.

“I want to have a choice to make my own decisions in this case,” said resident Mark Moody, who took a sip of bottled water before speaking but went on to say he doesn’t drink it often.

The Board of Selectmen took no official stance on the article. Selectman Jeff Wieand said the board was unanimously in favor of its message but was weary of the potential cost an almost certain lawsuit from bottled-water corporations or interest groups.

A softer article urging residents to voluntarily stop buying bottled water, Article 39, passed by a significant majority after Hill’s article was defeated.

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