Citywide Wetlands Protection Ordinance

As Councilor Sullivan noted last night, there are streams (and I might add wetlands) running throughout the City.     Heck, Newburyport is practically surrounded by water. Our Common Pasture is a wet meadow, then there are the marshlands in and about us. It’s this situation that allows us to avoid the water restrictions that surrounding towns must suffer through.

This ordinance will be a powerful coordinated effort to keep us enjoying the benefits of all this ‘water’.     Right now, the Conservation Commission as directed by the current Wetlands Ordinance primarily has overview over Plum Island.       Last night, approved unanimously on the first reading, the Wetlands Protections Ordinance would be adjusted to cover the entire city.

Traditionally, those who are in the construction business have fought against such controls since it hampers their ability to do a project.     But in the case of Newburyport; the disregard for the environment and the impacts generated by new buildings and landscapes has cost the city and private businesses and individuals, in total, millions of dollars.      And the cost to the City’s infrastructure as mentioned by Councilor Jones has been enormous.      Nor can the anguish be measured that has been expended due to the lack of the City’s action.

I am very excited that all the councilors last night understood how important this ordinance is for Newburyport and the entire region.    I know that organizations like Citizens for Environmental Balance and Parker River Clean Water Association have championed for this kind of oversight.     If you look at what it will protect, it could potentially save our City money and guarantee our quality of life by helping protect businesses, farmland, homes and watersheds, and yes, wildlife that is so much a part of Newburyport. It’s main goal is to protect the wetlands, water resources, flood prone areas, and adjoining upland areas (i.e., Buffer Zones) in the City of Newburyport by controlling activities deemed by the Newburyport Conservation Commission likely to have a significant or cumulative effect on areas deemed important to the community.

The ordinance will provide:

protection of public or private water supply;

protection of groundwater supply;

flood control;

storm damage prevention including coastal storm flowage;

prevention and control of pollution;

protection of land containing shellfish (Cool!);

protection of fisheries;

protection of wildlife and wildlife habitat;

protection of water quality;

erosion and sedimentation control;

protection of rare species habitat including rare plant and animal species;

protection of agriculture;

protection of aquaculture;

recreation and educational values.

If this ordinance had been in effect when the landfill was being worked on, a lot of heartache would have been avoided and our local city government would not have been so powerless.

This ordinance when finally passed is going to increase at least initially the work load on the Conservation Commission (Who are unpaid I might add); but the savings for the entire city will begin to add up significantly.       

Not only will the Common Pasture and The Great Marsh benefit but the city will be better prepared to deal with monster issues such as flooding , agricultural and industrial impacts, Crow Lane Landfill and large developments that impact the watershed and wetlands such as 40B’s.

-P. Preservationist

This entry was posted in Agriculture & Farms, Businesses, Conservation, Developers, Ecology, Economics, Environment, Flooding, Health and wellness, Landfill, Landscapes, Open Space, Quality of Life, Watershed. Bookmark the permalink.

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