Land Trust opposes ‘Hospitality’ district rezoning

Mar 21, 2021

The Wareham Land Trust, a group dedicated to protecting open space in town and educating the public of its importance, has officially opposed the Notos Groups’ Hospitality, Recreation, and Entertainment district, which will be up for votes at the April 10 Special Town Meeting.

The proposal would rezone nearly 1,000 acres of land located between Glen Charlie Road and Rte. 25 with the intent of encouraging large-scale development. 

The Trust’s Board of Directors unanimously voted to oppose the rezoning.

“The creation of a 963 acre “Hospitality, Recreation and Entertainment Overlay District in the pine barrens on land under which lies our sole source aquifer is a major threat to the future of Wareham’s drinking water supply and Plymouth County as a whole,” wrote Kathy Pappalardo, the Trust’s president, in a letter to town officials including the Board of Selectmen, Planning Board, and Conservation Commission.

Pappalardo went on to note that per the state’s Department of Environmental Protection,” the land in the district should have pervious surfaces that allow water to recharge the aquifer, rather than impervious surfaces like concrete.

If approved, the zoning measure would contradict the town’s Master Plan and Open Space and Recreation Plan, Pappalardo said. Both plans say the land should be protected.

Additionally, Pappalardo wrote, the land is an important habitat for many species of plants and animals. 

The district includes pine barrens -- a globally rare ecosystem now found only on the South Coast, Long Island, and New Jersey. The pine barrens are home to many endangered and threatened species, and naturally purify the water as it filters into the aquifer. 

“Taking into account all the natural attributes making this area of Wareham so special and environmentally unique (as stated in the Town’s own reports), it is difficult to understand the logic behind rezoning it to intensive man-made development,” Pappalardo wrote. 

While the group doesn’t unilaterally oppose development, Pappalardo wrote, they believe that “great care and forward-looking consideration with our natural resources should be implemented when planning.”

The letter concluded by urging officials and voters to oppose the measure.

The complete letter is attached to this article.