By K.B. Sherman, Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – The first and second articles on the warrant for the Sept. 26 Shrewsbury Special Town Meeting (STM) were brought by citizen petition.
Speaking for the petitioners of the first article, John Lukach asked the TM to vote on the procedure for setting water rates. Under the petition, water rates could not be set without the consent of a majority of voters at TM. This proposed change had been voted down by a previous TM.
His rationale, he said, was that no other towns in the state set water rates for residential use so much higher than those for commercial use. He urged, instead, that commercial water users pay more than residential users, with “residential water bills having become more significant” even though the majority of residents are using less than 65 gallons/day. Lukach said water rates now in use had been set in 2007 and they no longer apply to current water use. He urged the voters to pass his proposed rule before the next water rate increase.
In addition, Lukach said that the Board of Selectmen had failed to accurately report town water use to the state and their reports were inadequate regarding toxins in the water, and that one-third of town water was being wasted.
Town Manager Daniel Morgado then spoke, refuting Lukach’s allegations and explained that the proposed rule would not benefit the town. After the Finance Committee said they unanimously disapproved of the petition, the article was then defeated.
Article 2 on the agenda had been discussed at the Sept. 13 Board of Selectmen meeting. It asked that a Safe Drinking Water Bylaw be established.
Bryan Moss, a director with Worcester County Environmental Community Agricultural Network, Inc., had addressed the board regarding the issue of the town currently adding fluoridation to town water.
“I want to protect the entire community,” said Moss at that meeting, “and am concerned with developmental neurotoxins” such as manganese and especially fluoride.
“Not all the people can drink the water in town,” he had claimed, because of fluoride content. He continued by stating that anyone may protest what the town is putting in their water. “State laws don’t require additives but it may make recommendations. It’s the individual’s choice.”
Moss reiterated that information at the TM.
“Who has the power to adjust town water?” he asked.
“This [article] lost last year,” he admitted. “I want to respect the opinions of everyone and this bylaw would help do that. There are plenty of options for people to get fluoride on their own.”
At the September 26 town meeting, several voters rose to support Moss. One voter who identified herself as a chemical engineer and attorney, noted her family has a history of breast cancer and that fluoride is an endocrine disrupter which needs to be available to children only in a limited manner but now suits the chemical industry because of the profit it generates.
Another voter supported the bylaw because “added fluoride goes against bioethics and common sense.” She, too, labeled it a dangerous neurotoxin, which stops mothers from breast-feeding children and may cause cancer.
Representatives from the Board of Health and the Finance Committee both said their boards did not support the petition to eliminate fluoridation. Selectman Maurice DePalo joined the discussion to defend fluoridation in the town water, noting that at any time it could be stopped simply by not voting the program any money.
The article was then moved and defeated.