Attleboro Mayor proposing expanded wetland protection buffer zones

The Mayor says the city is losing a lot of natural land and animal habitat to home and property development, and wants to take steps to protect what’s left.

By: Tim Studebaker

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ATTLEBORO, MASS. (WLNE) – The mayor of Attleboro is taking the next step in his plan to make the city more environmentally friendly, by proposing an expansion to the city’s wetland protection buffer zones.

Attleboro Mayor Paul Heroux says, “Wetlands expand, they contract.  It’s the expansion that I’m mainly concerned about.”

The buffer zones, which are required under Massachusetts law, are designed to protect rivers, streams, ponds, and wetlands by limiting the types of development that can be done within a set distance of protected areas.  That distance varies from one city to the next.  The mayor is hoping to triple the size of Attleboro’s buffer zones, from 25 feet to 75 feet.

Heroux says, “We’re trying to encourage natural vegetation to grow.  We are trying to preserve the area that animals, both big and small, can be safe and live near wetlands.”

Minor repairs and projects are normally allowed, but property owners whose land falls within one of these zones will need to apply for an exemption for larger projects, such as installing a pool, or expanding a building.

Heroux says, “They can still do a lot of the things that they were doing previously, and if they wanted to build on the expanded protections wetland zone – the buffer zone – that is still a possibility.”

The mayor says the expansion is necessary as land development skyrockets across the city.

Heroux says, “There’s just too much clear cutting.  Houses are going up.  Animals don’t have a place to find refuge anymore.  So, this is one of the things that I am doing to try to protect that limited amount of land that we have left.”

The proposal would need the approval of the city council before it would take effect.  There is no timeline as to when that could happen.

© WLNE-TV / ABC6 2021

Categories: Attleboro, News