The Natural Resources Trust of Mansfield (NRT) strongly opposes Article 40 on the warrant of the upcoming Mansfield town meeting. The article asks that the town revoke section 15 of the Mansfield General By-Law. Section 15 helps to protect our wetlands. Of the 200 Massachusetts cities and towns who have local wetland by-laws, Mansfield’s is one of the most flexible for permitting allowances. We ask voters to reject Article 40 for the following reasons.
Protecting our wetlands is important to the community and our environment. Wetlands inhibit flooding by absorbing water during storms, and releasing it slowly into our rivers and streams. Wetlands improve the quality of the water in our aquifers and surface water by acting as a filter and removing pollutants. Wetland buffers help keep pollutants from septic systems and lawn care products from harming our water supply. Wetlands retain water, allowing rain to replenish our aquifer instead of flowing down stream. Wetlands are valuable to wildlife as a source of nesting places, protective cover, and food. Wetlands are the only home of some species of plants that have become rare. Protected wetlands, and the bordering high ground, provide areas for passive recreation. The large open spaces around wetlands give us places for walks, cross-country skiing, nature photography, quiet enjoyment, and more.
Wetlands inhibit flooding, improve our water quality, and protect our wildlife, all at no cost to the taxpayer.
Without this by-law developers could increase the density of subdivisions. This means more homes, more school costs, more maintenance, and more expenses to the town. Mansfield gets all of its water from wells. Pollutants from septic systems and lawn care products used within the wetland boundary would leach into the aquifer and then into our wells. Without the filtration benefit of wetlands the cost of water purification will increase. In these lean times, Mansfield taxpayers can ill afford the cost of cleaning up our groundwater supply once it has been polluted with chemicals or contaminated by septic systems located too close to the wetlands. Without this by-law the adjacent uplands would be greatly reduced, along with the corridors for wildlife and passive recreation.
It is a fact that neighborhood open space, wetlands, and trails increase the value of properties, even miles away. Many Mansfield residents benefit from this by-law every day. Their properties abut land owned by the Natural Resources Trust. These properties now are protected as open space in perpetuity.
The proponents of this article object to the Natural Heritage portion of the by-law. The Mansfield Conservation Commission has taken steps with article 36 to address their concerns. To throw out the whole by-law because of an objection to a portion just doesn’t make sense.
A vote against article 40 is in the best interest of our town and its future.