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Council approves wetlands law

GREENFIELD — After a lot of time, work and controversy, the Town Council, within two minutes on Wednesday night, passed an updated wetlands law that will protect wetlands while giving Greenfield’s Conservation Commission a little leeway when making decisions.

Precinct 5 Councilor David Singer, who found himself at the center of controversy when he allowed Albert Norman, the Greenfield man known nationally as a “sprawl-buster,” to present his version of a commission rewrite of the town’s wetlands ordinance in February, before a public hearing had been held on the issue, said Wednesday that the end result is a “good amended ordinance.”

Singer said the town’s wetlands law update strengthens its requirements for replication, but does not forbid it, and removes vague language from a waiver that was added in 2008, but does not get rid of the waiver that allows the commission some leeway when a project needs it to acquire a special permit.

Council Vice President Hillary Hoffman, who is a member of the Appointments and Ordinances Committee, said she was happy to finally see the ordinance reach the full council for a vote.

Hoffman said the Town Council committee, commission and the public collaborated to create a good ordinance.

Over the past two months, Appointments and Ordinances and Conservation Commission worked together to amend the rewrite the commission had taken more than two years to write.

In the end, only a few changes were made to tighten language about replication of a wetland and to remove the phrase “overriding public interest” from the waiver, because no one could define what it meant.

Four of the five commission members attended the Town Council meeting Wednesday night, but did not speak on the issue.

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