Voters in Exeter, New Hampshire, have a choice to make on March 10. Article 8 of the town warrant proposes to roll back existing wetland buffer protections. If approved, the new ordinance would allow for development in areas where it has not been permitted previously.
Wetlands are essential to clean water. They help filter pollutants and provide important wildlife benefits. As well, wetlands provide important flood control functions, something to keep in mind with increasing severe weather events and climate change.
A group of citizens has formed to encourage a NO vote on March 10. The Exeter Conservation Commission also is opposed to the ordinance change. People in the community believe that the proposed wetland buffer changes are on the ballot prematurely – moved through the process without adequate citizen participation and comment – in order to fast-track development.
One of the greatest threats to the Great Bay estuary is stormwater pollution. With increasing recognition of the value of Great Bay, and the many threats facing it, now is the time when we should be strengthening protections for our water bodies and wetlands – NOT weakening them.
As someone working to safeguard the future of our Seacoast-area waters, I strongly agree with the Exeter citizens who oppose wetland buffer changes. Along with members of our Clean Water Advocates group – local citizens concerned with clean water issues everywhere in the Great Bay watershed – we’ll be working to safeguard local water quality protections in Exeter, and to prevent the weakening of existing needed protections.