The town of Unity has voted to ban the release of 10 or more balloons within a 24 hour period.

The ordinance was proposed by Penny Sampson, chairwoman of the Board of Selectmen in Unity. She told WABI-TV that the inspiration for the measure came from reading on social media about mass balloon releases that were part of memorials for people who've passed on, or as a way of celebrating something. The concern is that the balloons are harmful to wildlife, when they eventually fall to the ground, and that the gases released by the balloons are also not beneficial to the environment. Plus, she says, the rubber balloons are usually not biodegradable.

The ordinance declares it unlawful for any person, firm, or corporation to intentionally release, organize the release, or intentionally cause to be released within a 24-hour period 10 or more balloons inflated with gas that's lighter than air. There are a few exceptions, including balloons used in the interest of science, hot air balloons, biodegradable balloons, and any balloons that are released inside. Violating the ordinance will leave the perpetrator subject to a $250 fine.

Unity is well-known as an environmentally-conscious community, and is home to the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, and its annual Common Ground Fair.

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