Westborough joins other Mass. communities in banning plastic bags


By Andrew Strecker, Senior Community Reporter

Westborough – Voters at Westborough’s Annual Town Meeting on March 17 approved all articles put before them, including a ban on the use of plastic bags at grocery and retail store checkouts, and a decision not to demolish a historic downtown property and continue to have it for sale.

Article 25 was a vote to eliminate the use of thin-film single-use plastic checkout bags in grocery and retail stores. According to Bruce Tretter, the selectman presenting the article, 61 communities in Massachusetts have already approved similar measures.

Resident Peter Flynn made clear he was not championing plastic bags over other alternatives, but said, “These bags are often reused at home. Rather than have us as a Town Meeting say people should not be allowed to make that decision themselves, I would rather trust our citizens to consider the environmental attributes and their own personal circumstances, and to make responsible decisions themselves.”

In a moment of levity, resident Scott Parker said he was in favor of the ban for environmental reasons “in addition to the fact it should inhibit my wife from continuing to hoard them and thereby consume every free cubic inch in our kitchen cabinets.”

The article passed by a vote of 135 to 10 after just under 30 minutes of discussion and will go into effect in six months.

Passed by a vote of 93 to 21, Article 41 allows selectmen to again put a town-owned property located at 7 Parkman St. and known as the Spurr House up for sale. The home had previously been put up for sale. One bid was submitted to the board of selectmen and rejected as being significantly under the assessed value. The plan at that time was to then demolish the property and replace it with a parking lot.

Residents at a public meeting last February said town officials should have done more to advertise the sale. According to Selectman Ian Johnson, the new effort will include a “For Sale” sign on the property, advertising the sale on billboards on Route 9 and contacting local Realtors directly.

“We’re putting it back out there,” said Johnson. “We hope this will finally come to fruition and sell the property, and someone will take the property and put the money in to restore it,” he said.

All town budget articles passed, including a 4.65 percent increase in the public school budget to $51,278,540. The total town budget will go up from $109,211,071 to $113,953,430, a 4.34 percent increase. The estimated increase on the average house tax bill is $503.89, up 5.77 percent.