Debate over two warrant articles dominated the first day of Town Meeting at Concord-Carlisle Regional High School.
Sunday, voters rejected both Article 10, a measure that would set in motion a process for recalling elected town officials, and Article 34, a move to ban fluoride in Concord’s public drinking water.
“I’m disappointed,” resident Lee Ann Kay said after Article 10 was defeated.
Kay presented Article 10, a citizen petition that would instruct selectmen to submit a bill to state lawmakers to give Concord voters the power to recall elected officials.
She said 150 Massachusetts communities have passed measures to recall elected officials, adding that Concord’s charter does not include a remedy for remove officials who abuse power or can’t finish their term because of impaired health.
“We have a history of town officials who intentionally lied to Town Meeting and to the people of Concord for political purposes,” Kay said. “One of the most documented deceptions was the town put out a handout at [a previous] Town Meeting claiming that the EPA approves of children drinking water contaminated with up to 60 parts per billion of lead. Two weeks before Town Meeting, the EPA told them not make that false claim, but they did it anyway to justify elevated lead in Concord Public School drinking water.”
“I don’t agree,” Town Manger Chris Whalen in response to Kay’s charge. “….town officials made a good faith effort to comply with the vote of Town Meeting and to keep the kids safe.”
Before the Article 10 vote, one resident said Kay should provide evidence to support the lying accusation, while another said the article provides “remedies for violations of public trust.”
Resident Hugh Lauer pointed out that Concord’s elected officials are volunteers who aren’t paid and work under voluntary term limits.
“There’s no [elected] body that is entrenched,” Lauer said. “It’s easier to wait someone out than it is to try to dislodge them.”
Proposed fluoride ban
Article 34, which called for a ban on fluoride in Concord’s public drinking water, was defeated by an overwhelming majority after Shelley Morss, the article’s presenter, said a study by The Lancet classified fluoride as a dangerous neurotoxin.
Dr. Myron Allukian, president of the Massachusetts Coalition for Oral Health, testified in favor of fluoride. He also testified when Concord voters approved it in 1969.
“If it’s not broke, don’t fix it,” Allukian said. “There are hundreds of studies that show fluoride is safe and effective.”
Dr. Sandra Meyerson, a Concord pediatric dentist, said she has seen thousands of children in her career and noticed that Concord children have healthier teeth compared to Maynard, Stow and Littleton, that don’t have fluoridated water. “If you take away fluoride,” Meyerson said, “you will have fluoride supplements, which are costly and not as safe.”
When asked if her fight to ban fluoride is over, Morss said, “I have to figure out how to continue on. I will do everything I can to get it before the public, but obviously that wasn’t a great talent, I didn’t succeed [today].”
‘Mansionization’ article withdrawn
One article that generated a lively discussion at a hearing last month never made it to the Town Meeting floor.
Article 18, which supporters said would limit “mansionization” in Concord, was withdrawn. A one-page announcement said “after considerable discussion and deliberation, Concord’s Planning Board has decided the exact language of Article 18 needs to be refined, and therefore will NOT move it this year.”
“Mansionization” refers to building large houses on small lots, which some residents say detracts from the town’s character.
Sunday’s announcement indicated the board will hire a planning intern this summer to research and report on effects in other municipalities to restrict the size of new or expanded single-family homes, and possibly bring a revised article to Town Meeting next year.
Moderator Eric Van Loon said 307 registered voters attended Town Meeting on Sunday.
It continues Monday and Tuesday, 7 p.m. at CCHS.
Articles 21-29, including the town and public school budgets, will be decided Monday.
Tuesday’s Special Town Meeting includes votes on selectmen taking land owned by the chemical company W.R. Grace by eminent domain, banning artificial turf on all public land in Concord, and preservation money for a field’s renovation project at CCHS.