Wetland Bylaw Changes Would Streamline Process

By Debra Parkhurst

SelectmenThe Selectmen held a public hearing to review proposed amendments to the Bedford Wetland Protection Bylaw on Monday, January 4.   Conservation Chairman Steven Hagan explained that the amendments concentrate on process improvements for residents in order to make it more readable and user friendly, and to conform more closely with the Massachusetts Association of Conservation Commission (MACC) Model  Bylaw .

Chairman Hagan said that Commission member John Willson spent much of the last year reviewing wetland bylaws of neighboring towns as well as the MACC model bylaw.   While much of the Bylaw will remain the same, improvements for residents will include on-line applications for Request for Determinations and Notices of Intent; will allow the Conservation Administrator to approve simple , non-controversial projects; and  would encourage a graduated system of  penalties for non-compliance.

The new amendments also incorporate the state definition of “tree” while the existing policy on tree removal becomes part of the bylaw.  On the other hand, Conservation fees will be removed from the Bylaw and will be incorporated into the Commission Regulations.  Finally, the revisions will limit the definition of streams under its jurisdiction to “perennial” streams, and will not include “intermittent” streams.  The Commission will consider comments, including those from the Selectmen and Town Counsel, and will submit their final revised Wetland Protection Bylaw by the date of the Town Meeting Warrant closure (February 16).

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