Local Government and Politics, News

Nahant will settle the debate on a wetlands protection bylaw on Monday night

A man walks in to the Frank Massa Marine Systems Engineering Laboratory at the Northeastern Marine Science Center in Nahant. (Spenser R. Hasak)

NAHANT — The wetlands protection debate could be water under the bridge after Monday night’s Special Town Meeting.

Registered voters might, or might not, vote to amend the town’s bylaws to change the permitting process for projects within the town’s wetlands.

There has been debate over the decision since it was first proposed last year. Ultimately, it was postponed indefinitely at the Annual Town Meeting and referred back to the creator, the Board of Selectmen, for refinement.

According to a document outlining the zoning bylaw amendments that were originally proposed, the purpose of the zoning bylaw was “to protect the wetlands, water resources, and adjoining land areas in Nahant by controlling activities deemed by the Board of Appeals likely to have a significant or cumulative effect on resource area values.”

The amendments, which were presented to Town Meeting, would have required permits to remove, fill, dredge, build on, degrade, discharge into and otherwise alter any freshwater or coastal wetlands.

The bylaw would also cover marshes, wet meadows, bogs, swamps, vernal pools, banks, reservoirs, lakes, ponds, quarry pits, rivers, streams, creeks, beaches, dunes, estuaries, the ocean, land under water bodies, land subject to flooding by groundwater or surface water, land subject to tidal action and all land within 100 feet of any of these features.

Originally, residents who live within the zoning area would be required to apply for permits with the Zoning Board of Appeals and the Conservation Commission before completing projects, but that has since been changed.

“It’s duplicative in my opinion,” said Conservation Commission member Kristin Kent on the original proposal. “Right now, we can’t get people to file for permits. Adding a second filing requirement isn’t going to help. I do support us doing a wetlands bylaw, but a non-zoning bylaw.”

Now, the only way to appeal a Conservation Commission decision would be through Superior Court.

There will be two other articles taken up at the meeting, which begins at 7:30 p.m. Monday. Registered voters will also be tasked with authorizing payment of the prior fiscal year bills and deciding whether a 235-square-foot plot of land owned by the town at the northwest end of Bay View Avenue will be sold.

More Stories From Nahant