Wareham Town Meeting voters want aquaculture notification examined further

Apr 24, 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.