Wareham Town Meeting voters want aquaculture notification examined further

By Matthew Bernat | Apr 23, 2018

Town Meeting voters on Monday rejected a request that would have forced shellfish growers to notify abutters living within a half mile of new aquaculture projects through certified mail.

Donna Foley placed the request on Town Meeting's agenda through a citizen’s petition, which requires the signatures of 10 registered voters. Foley said the change was needed to notify abutters about aquaculture projects after one built in Mark’s Cove caught residents off guard.

“Comprehensive notification is a must when our navigable waters will be disrupted,” said Foley. “As aquaculture becomes more prolific in our town we want to be sure the placement of these businesses adhere to strict guidelines.”

Herb Williams agreed, saying those living near the Mark’s Cove project were “blindsided.”

“This is an important, commonsense courtesy to neighbors who may be impacted by any aquaculture development,” said Williams.

Town officials disagreed, saying the requirement was excessive.

“We’re talking a half mile and literally thousands of people would have to be notified,” said Selectman Peter Teitelbaum.

Director of Assessment Jacqui Nichols said the supporters’ claim that the change wouldn’t cost anything was incorrect. In order to create a list of abutters to be notified by certified mail, staff would have to comb through assessors’ maps.

“This is not a ‘no-cost issue’ for taxpayers,” said Nichols. “That’s a lot of research on a very over-taxed staff, and it will cost the taxpayers money.”

Voters rejected the proposal, opting to send it for further study. Foley seemed willing to reconsider.

“I agree, maybe a half mile is extensive,” she said.

Comments (6)
Posted by: WWreader | Apr 24, 2018 06:53

A half mile is 2640 feet. The people who put this on the warrant admitted that some Cape towns had rules of 500, 750, and 1000 feet. This vote was a no brainer.

Posted by: Spherebreaker | Apr 24, 2018 10:13

I think this was a good article but I do think the 1/2 mile radius was excessive. I think 1000' would be a better number  Abutters should be notified.  Some of these operations are intrusive and do affect habitat and use of the waters. Its funny that the width of docks are so regulated due to shading issues yet acres upon acres can be shaded with floating oyster bags and that's OK.  I think it was a  huge stretch on the truth having Assessor saying it would be a huge expense to create an abutters list. They can be created with the push of a button on most Assessors databases and GIS systems. If we do not have that capability now we should get it and reduce the size of the assessing department.

Posted by: Kress | Apr 24, 2018 13:08

If a notice becomes required, why wouldn't the aquaculture company pay for the notice?

Posted by: Linda | Apr 25, 2018 17:03

If the aquaculture projects are like having shellfish grants, they pay the town to "rent the ground under the water" and they have to pay real estate taxes on that to the town.  They have paid enough and all it takes is a bad storm and all profit is gone. 

Posted by: Spherebreaker | Apr 26, 2018 09:24

The town does not own the water and should not be charging rent or denying my access to something they don't own.

Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | Apr 26, 2018 09:37

Unless specific in the deed, they don't own the land beneath either.  It's a very complicated topic.  Ultimately it's a State or Commonwealth topic as to who owns and has rights to water and subaquatic land.


However, no different that a mooring permit, the town does have the right to regulate what is placed in the water and attached to the bottom.

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