The Patrick administration’s initiative to eliminate citizens’ rights to appeal inappropriate wetlands decisions represents a dramatic reversal of the governor’s election campaign call for voters to get involved in government (“Activists fight quick permit decisions,” City & Region, Page B5, July 29). For 35 years, groups of 10 or more citizens have had the right to appeal harmful wetlands decisions by the Department of Environmental Protection in an independent administrative hearing. This infrequently utilized right is the final safety net citizens have to protect wetland resources.
If the Patrick administration has its way, citizens would lose the right to uphold the public interests embodied in the Wetlands Protection Act. Only people with a property rights interest would be allowed to appeal. Undoubtedly, this would be welcome news to developers who want to pave over wetlands or otherwise interfere with the natural ability of wetlands to filter water, prevent flooding, and provide habitat.
The writer is executive director of Friends of the Middlesex Fells Reservation.
August 2, 2007
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