Last Tuesday night, an unprecedented number of Yorktown residents turned out to express their views at the public hearing on the repeal and replacement of Yorktown’s Freshwater Protection Law.
Speakers were overwhelmingly opposed to the proposed replacement law. Topics ranged from technical points on wetland ecology to legal points about the law’s administration to heartfelt comments on the quality of life in Yorktown and our vision for the future to real fears about flooding and property destruction.
Participants were informed, passionate and courteous. Thank you to all who spoke and to those who gave support by their attendance. Thank you to those who got the word out and helped organize this response.
In the end, the town board voted and did not repeal the existing wetland protection law and did not pass the proposed replacement. This shows that when people care enough to get involved, they can make a difference.
Supervisor Grace promised to consider all he heard in drafting a new proposed law (draft six?), even though the majority of the speakers advocated for keeping the current law, possibly with amendments. Common themes of the speakers were: opposition to changing the minimum size of protected wetlands from 1,000 square-feet to 4,356 square-feet; the ambiguity about the status of town-owned wetlands under the law; changes in the number of wetland activities allowed with no public notification; and the lack of a clear statement of intent to preserve and increase wetlands in the town. Additionally, the town board was urged to critically evaluate proposals to use the value of wetlands functions in granting permits.
I urge Yorktowners who care about the town’s natural resources and who have a vision of the kind of place they want Yorktown to be, to keep informed and continue to speak out against the weakening of our environmental protection laws. Your participation can make a difference.