A Call to Action from the Coalition to Save Northampton’s Wetlands

Please distribute far and wide!

Calling all concerned Northampton residents! City Council meeting this Thursday, September 20, 7pm! Call your Councilors now!

An unacceptably weak proposed Amended Wetlands Ordinance will come before City Council on September 20. Northampton citizens are building a broad coalition of individuals, neighborhood groups and conservation organizations to challenge the proposal and to strengthen, not weaken, Northampton’s Wetlands Ordinance.

Coalition to Save Northampton’s Wetlands believes the proposed Wetlands Ordinance undervalues the role that wetlands play in flood control, pollution prevention, climate change mitigation, open space and air/water quality.

We also believe that our storm water management system is already stressed and unable to handle the additional load as more development—buildings, impervious surfaces and runoff—replace wetland buffers, and as so-called “100-year floods” occur more often.

1.  Contact your Councilors today.  Tell them you want:

ü A unified (non-split) wetlands ordinance

ü A minimum 50 foot “no encroachment” zone around wetlands throughout the entire City

ü Strong vernal pool protection (minimum 200-foot protected buffer)

Unless the Council can satisfy the above requests, we ask that they delay their vote pending a deeper technical analysis of the proposed changes.

2. Attend the next City Council meeting and stand with us: Thursday, September 20, 7pm, Council Chambers, 212 Main Street

The proposed Ordinance would allow encroachment as close as 10 feet from wetlands in nine of the City’s sixteen zoning classes, where many residents live.  This is unusually permissive for Massachusetts, and has not been routine Conservation Commission practice. 

Current practice, articulated in Northampton Conservation Commission’s Policy on Work within the Buffer Zone (effective 10/23/03), is no encroachment within 50 feet of wetlands. With very rare exceptions, the Conservation Commission has consistently upheld this minimum 50-foot no encroachment policy. Hence, at 10-feet, the proposed Amended Wetlands Ordinance would codify a significant weakening of wetlands protection in the areas where many of us live.

It is not too late to change this ordinance. But our elected officials MUST hear from each of us. This may be the best chance we’ll have to preserve Northampton’s livability and flood protection for years!

For your City Councilors’ phone numbers and email addresses, please see: http://www.northamptonma.gov/gsuniverse/httpRoot/council/

To support the Coalition, please contact Lilly Lombard jollypair@comcast.net, come to City Council meeting this Thursday, September 20, 7pm, and call your Councilors now!


Conservation Commission Chair Paul Wetzel

Draft Amended Wetlands Ordinance:

Northampton Conservation Commission’s Policy on Work within the Buffer Zone
(10/23/2003) and additional documents and analysis (see NorthAssoc.org article)