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Vote ‘yes’ on repeal of plastic water bottle ban

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By Tuesday, Jul 24, 2018 Letters 8

To the editor:

On Monday, Aug. 6, at Monument Mountain Regional High School, the voters of Great Barrington will be asked to vote to rescind the ban on plastic water bottles.

The problem with the ban is it punishes our local businesses by barring them from selling the small water bottles. The ban doesn’t stop anyone from buying the water bottles in question from our neighboring towns and still disposing of them in our trash bins. And if found selling the bottles in question, the ban could cost merchants hundreds of dollars per day.

Let’s not forget that these businesses hire local people and pay outrageous taxes. The majority of taxes go to support an out-of-control school budget. When operating a business, every item in the store helps that business to survive.

If you think it’s easy to operate in Great Barrington, why then are there 30-plus empty storefronts from the radio station to the VFW in town?

Let’s vote to bring common sense back to town. Remember: If you stay home, don’t complain about losing your town one vote at a time.

Andy Moro

8 Comments   Add Comment

  1. Jerry says:

    Couldn’t agree more. Too bad whoever was running the former businesses in those 30+ vacant storefronts didn’t think to stock a little Poland Springs, maybe many of them would still be there.

    Societal good is no reason to ban the sale of a product. I wish they would also repeal the age restrictions on alcohol and tobacco products. If some kids die of drunken driving or smoking related illnesses, that could provide a nice thinning of the herd which in turn could reduce that bloated school budget.

    Thank you for this letter and you can count on my vote.

    1. Brian says:

      That was a poor attempt at sarcasm. You just stabbed a lot of people in the heart with your comment and you added nothing to this important civic debate. Whether you support repeal of the ban or not, hurtful comments have no place here so please stay off this site.

  2. Steve Farina says:

    Andy, I do agree with you on the need to repeal the ban. The reason you state is one of many. Hopefully we will have a large turnout and every registered GB voter who wishes to share on the topic has a chance to speak this time.

  3. Michelle Loubert says:

    The citizen’s petition submitted for the warrant isn’t “repeal the ban” nor “rescind the ban.” It’s not “rescind the vote.” The citizen’s petition clearly states, “we, the registered voters of Great Barrington, Massachusetts, signed below, call upon the SelectBoard of said town, to hold a special town meeting for the purpose of voting to repeal this law.” Until the Attorney General approves the article as voted at Annual Town Meeting, the “ban” is not the “law.” And the passed article was not the law at the time the citizen’s petition was submitted.

    1. Carl Stewart says:

      Dear Ms. Loubert:

      You are…and I would have thought it was needless to say…absolutely correct. The citizens’ petition was poorly drafted and if by August 6th, the Attorney General has not approved the bylaw passed at Annual Town Meeting there is nothing to repeal. In the seemingly, unlikely event that the opponents of the ban prevail at Special Town Meeting, their vote will be a nullity. They will have achieved nothing but will have cost all of the taxpayers of the town both time and money in holding the extraordinary meeting.

      In addition, Mr. Farina is being either dishonest or disingenuous when he asks for a large turnout. The history of special town meetings during the 25 years or so that I have been observing them in small towns in the Commonwealth is that a low turnout favors the petitioners for the special meeting. For that reason, the people who initiated having the ban placed on the warrant should listen to Mr. Farina’s call for a large number of people attending on August 6th.

      As an aside, there are some legitimate issues that suggest the ban was not fully thought out, although it seems extremely unlikely that banning the sale of small, reusable water bottles will cause any merchant to go belly-up. But the bylaw could be amended to allow any small merchant…with the definition of “small” to be determined…who would be disproportionately affected, to have a waiver of the bylaw for a period of time (say, 5 years) during which time she could make appropriate adjustments to their inventory. In addition, there could be exemptions from the ban for, let us say, sporting events and other one-off functions.

      The argument that someone from Great Barrington wanting to purchase a 16.9 ounce bottle of water could drive to either Sheffield or Stockbridge to make the purchase is a silly argument at best. The hope among those who care about the havoc being wreaked upon the environment, and particularly the oceans of the world, by the dumping of millions of tons of plastic, is that others will follow the lead of the municipalities who forbid the sale of small, non-deposit, plastic bottles.

      1. Steve Farina says:

        Carl, I am being neither dishonest nor disingenuous. I belive we should have a well discussed, well represented vote on the issue. I do not believe that the less than 200 votes in favor of the bylaw should decide the issue for the thousands of residents, the businesses impacted by the forced removal of certain products, the many second homeowners, the tens of thousands of tourists who visit the Town of Great Barrington and the many other visitors from other local towns, such as yourself.
        While I do not favor the Town meeting format for this type of discussion, as there can be no refuting what one person may say if you have already had your 3 minutes to share (or more if you are granted it, as the 3 high school girls were in the ATM), it is the only option before us.
        As for the wording on the petition, there were several flaws, and if it ends up in a legal battle with the Town (which I hope it does not ever come to), then that alone could cause whoever is Town Manager to revoke the bylaw currently awaiting response from the AG office.
        Finally, as for the “cost” to the Town, the Select Board has opted to add other Warrant Articles – which impact taxpayers and have still kept to their decision not to do a mailing to inform the registered voters of the STM. The cost of the meeting (which can now be considered a shared cause, as the Town has added it’s own issues to the agenda), at about $2000, or even if it was advertised and cost $4000, is a non-issue if the meeting actually increases participation in the process.
        (As an aside, at the ATM in Concord in which their bylaw was passed they were in the 3rd day of the meeting and had a robust discussing on the topic before more than 750 people voted – ha, can you imagine a 3day ATM in GB, people start whining at 4 hours)

      2. Michelle Loubert says:

        With regard to the language used in the citizen’s petition: Town Meeting Time states, “Suppose the substance of the request is proper, but the form of it is improper. May the selectmen edit it, with the advice of town counsel?” Town Meeting Time recommends, “use the petitioners’ language without change so that the selectmen may not be accused of changing the sense of it. If the selectmen approve the substance of the request, but not its precise language, the selectmen may insert their own article containing the substance properly worded, preferably just prior to the requested article, and in such event action (whether affirmative or negative) on the article inserted by the selectmen will make disposition of the requested article a mere formality.” On July 9, it was brought to the attention of the Select Board that the bylaw had not yet been approved by the AG’s office. If I am interpreting Town Meeting Time correctly, the Select Board could have, at that time, taken the above action. Thoughts?

      3. Steve Farina says:

        I defer to legal experts…Carl?
        However, they also could have simply set the STM date 2 days later…I would expect the Select Board to better understand when any Article voted on in the ATM becomes law more so than an average citizen

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