Draft wording that includes expanded setback authority for the Salisbury Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Commission was presented in a public “workshop” on March 1. More than 60 members of the community attended via Zoom. No public comments were allowed. But the large turnout signaled enough interest for the Wetlands Commission to schedule a special Zoom meeting on March 29 at 6:30 p.m. This hearing, which will include time for public comment, is meant to address any concerns related to the potential impact of the expanded regulatory authority.
The recorded session on March 1 included a 45-minute briefing from Abby Conroy, Salisbury Land Use Administrator. Her presentation materials will be available on the town website soon. We encourage all interested parties to review the presentation and draft regulations. A large number of Twin Lakes Association board members attended the meeting, and it is our observation that many questions need to be answered before the Wetlands Commission acts on the proposal.
The expanded setback is the most controversial aspect of the rules update. The new rules would extend to 200 feet from any watercourse (up from 100 feet) the amount of land subject to regulation. The rules would also extend to 100 feet from any wetlands (up from 75 feet) the amount of land subject to regulation. Wetlands are defined not as “wet land” but by soil composition as detailed by a soil scientist. The proposed change to what is technically called the “upland review area” is beyond anything mandated by the state. The only explanation provided for doubling the watercourses setback is that some other communities in the state have done so.
The vast majority of homes on Twin Lakes are within 200 feet of the water. These new rules would affect current homeowners—not just those that are building new. New buildings have long been reviewed by the Planning and Zoning Commission and the Wetlands Commission. The proposed rules are designed to regulate common yard activity like planting a tree or removing deadwood or repairing landscaping and hardscaping within 200 feet of the shoreline.
The TLA board believes all members, especially property owners near the water or adjacent to wetlands, have a clear interest in understanding the intent of this proposal and the full impact it would have on what many consider to be routine maintenance and repair activities. The workshop did not include examples of what is a permitted activity. It did not include any reasons for extending the regulated area. Also unexplained is why the new rules would apply to only four of six lakes in the jurisdiction.
The Wetlands Commission has asked that the TLA, as an organization, submit one set of questions on behalf of members. The board is putting together a set of questions now and welcomes any input from the membership. Please email your questions for the Wetlands Commission to TLA President Grant Bogle using the “president” link under “contact” on the TLA website. Please provide your comments by March 14. We expect our questions will addressed at the March 29 special meeting.
Among the broad set of questions we intend to submit:
–What problem is the town is trying to solve with this expanded authority?
–What are some specific examples of routine activities that would be allowed without permission?
–What would be the timeline for approval to, say, remove a fallen tree?
–Why would the new rule apply to Twin Lakes when, according our information, it appears to address issues specific to Lakeville Lake?
Minutes from the Feb. 24 TLA board meeting have been posted. The board heard an update on the causeway project from property owner Jeffrey Keenan and his environmental consultant Tim Abbott. Keenan shared his correspondence with The Nature Conservancy and said he is no longer seeking to shorten the causeway. He is planning a nature walk on his property near the causeway, which would be open to the public, among other improvements that have all received conditional approval from The Nature Conservancy. We have posted on the TLA website the latest correspondence between Keenan and The Nature Conservancy.
In other business, the board approved a hydro-raking pilot program for the channel and water quality testing on West Twin. The board also discussed proposed updates to the town’s lake rules and regulations. That remains a work in progress.
A new livestream of East Twin Lake is now up on the TLA website. Check in for a real-time look at conditions and activity. Click on the arrow to start. You can enlarge to full screen, if you like.
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