These maps from 1873 and 1884 show how Millyard Brook and the surrounding wetlands are a persistent and longstanding feature of Ward 3.
May 5 Letter to Gazette: “Don’t relax Northampton’s protection of wetlands”
In 1989, Northampton passed a wetlands ordinance – still in effect today – with stronger wetlands protections than minimal state standards. It established a 100-foot vegetated “buffer zone” around wetlands and vernal pools to protect their functioning and, indeed, their existence.
These protections are now in jeopardy, because the city is proposing to roll back the 100-foot buffer in many parts of the city and permit developers to build as close as 10 feet from a wetland. This is a gratuitous and dangerous giveaway of protected open space, wildlife habitat and wetlands. Developers already enjoy many incentives, and the rapid pace of ongoing development tells us that existing regulations are not too restrictive for them. Why loosen the rules to benefit them even more?
We should all be worried about how these rollbacks would harm basic wetland functions, such as flood control and water quality. But I am most worried about the thousands of animals, birds and amphibians that live in and rely on these wetland buffer zones for survival. Many are already in distress statewide and nationwide because of habitat loss.