14 Sep 2014
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Bottle Ban Proponent Softens Language, Approach

Article framers give selectmen latitude, limit to liter-size plastic.

Bottle Ban Proponent Softens Language, Approach

Jean Hill is trying for a second year to get the town to ban the sale of small-size plastic drinking water bottles. Hill's article passed Town Meeting last year, but Attorney General Martha Coakley's office ruled that the article did not constitute a legal bylaw.

But Hill is returning with a new article that gives the selectmen more power of enforcement, among other changes, according to Jill Appel, a Hill spokesperson.

Appel is a former member of the Finance Committee and sits on the municipal light plant board. She said Tuesday that she is helping to educate the town and local businesses that opposed the ban, saying it would negatively affect their businesses.

"I worked with an attorney to follow the proper format in town," said Appel. "I don't know if it's legal or not. That's for the attorney general to decide once the bill is passed."

Appel, Hill's self-described "right arm," said the presentation at the public hearing on the article went "very well" this week.

"Jean gave a robust presentation," said Appel. "She was scripted and had 18 slides, and got good feedback."

Appel acknowledged the "differences of opinion" regarding the article. Another warrant article asks voters to merely "discourage" the use and sale of plastic water bottles. Appel said she thinks both should pass. "On its own, it doesn't work," she said.

Tom First, head of Nantucket Nectars and O Water, spoke against the ban, saying there is chlorine in the drinking water from the tap, and that the town could recycle more.

A representative from Crosby's Marketplace said their store is stocking bio-degradable bottles and reusable bottles.

"These are all good things," said Appel. "But not everybody wins in this debate."

Appel said the article is a "soft ban," meaning, she said, "effective but not so restrictive" for individuals and businesses. Only the smaller liter-size bottles would be affected, and only plain water, not flavored or supplemented water drinks.

"We are trying to simplify it," said Appel. She said there would be "spot checks" twice a year to see of stores were complying, and the selectmen would "monitor" the effects of the ban and if costs became "prohibitive," in other words, if a market sued the town, "the selectmen would hold a hearing and decide what they wanted to do with the bylaw."

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