Harwich Votes To Ban Helium-Filled, Other Lighter-Than-Air Balloons

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HARWICH, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — Harwich is letting the lighter-than-air out of the balloon.

At Tuesday's Town Meeting, residents approved a citizen petition that would ban the sale, distribution, and use of any type of balloon filled with any gas that is lighter-than-air, including helium.

The petition passed by a narrow 125-109 vote.

Resident Patrick Otton brought the petition to the Town's attention. His main motivation behind the balloon ban was protecting the environment.

"Balloons and restraining attachments often released to float and drift away are not properly disposed [and] are a significant hazard to wildlife and marine life," Otton said at Tuesday's meeting.

Voicing his support for the ban, resident Jeff Schwartz said he has been "grieving the loss of our natural world" for his entire life.

"I’m not a fan of banning stuff that people like to use like balloons," resident Dan Baker said from the opposing side. "We’ve probably bought hundreds of helium filled balloons throughout the years, and I can’t remember one that was misused or that was let go in the air."

Anyone who discards a balloon in any public place in Harwich other than the trash, or knowingly releases any lighter-than-air balloons into the air, will receive a written warning on their first offense. Second and third offenses lead to a $50 and $100 fine.

The ban will go into effect Sept. 15.

WBZ's Carl Stevens (@CarlWBZ) reports.

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