SOUTH YARMOUTH — The town’s plan to fluoridate its water supply could be challenged in a referendum.
Opponents say they have enough resident signatures to force a town vote next May. They have not yet turned in the signatures to the town clerk’s office.
Two months ago, the town’s board of health voted 3-2 in favor of fluoridation. That followed several months of contentious debate.
Supporters say the plan will help keep young children’s teeth healthy. Opponents argue it could cause health problems and that it costs too much.
Currently, no towns on the Cape fluoridate their water supply.
The board of health rejected a fluoridation plan two years ago, but Selectman William Marasco instructed them to re-examine the issue.
A town referendum brought by petition must include at least 10 percent of the total amount of registered voters in Yarmouth.
Town Clerk Jane Hibbert said more than 18,000 residents are registered.
Fluoride opponent Vi Pacitto said more than 50 volunteers have collected more than 2,000 signatures so far. She expected to collect more signatures before turning in the forms sometime this month.
Volunteers collected signatures door-to-door and at several places including grocery stores and flea markets.
“People are very passionate about it,” she said.
Since the town publicly posted the board of health’s decision July 5, the petitioners have until Oct. 3, or 90 days, to file their papers. All signatures must be verified.
Benjamin Gordon, the town health board’s chairman, said several residents have said they support the decision to fluoridate. “In terms of the percentages (who support or oppose the plan) in town, I have no idea,” said Gordon, who voted in favor of the plan.
Hibbert said referendums starting from petitions are not common in town.
If the signatures are valid, a referendum would be held during the town election on May 6, 2008.