Norwell: Selectmen vote not to collect Jacobs Pond Estate pond mitigation fees

After months of delays, the Norwell Board of Selectmen finally weighed in at their meeting Wednesday night, on the controversial issue of the Jacobs Pond Estate pond mitigation fee.

The Norwell Zoning Board of Appeals has been upholding what selectmen call an inherently unfair fee of $5,000 a year, as stipulated in the ZBA’s order of conditions for the Jacob’s Pond comprehensive permit to clean the pond, which the development has proven it does not pollute. 

The selectmen do not have the authority to overrule the zoning board on this matter. But, they can and did vote 2 to 1 not to continue to collect those fees.

Selectmen Chair Greg McBride, chair of the Conservation Commission when it originally initiated the fee, said that in retrospect, the fees were a mistake.

“We made a mistake from the very beginning in how to manage this. In retrospect, I think we should have required that both the ZBA and the Conservation Commission require the developer to pony up $100,000, so we would have been assured that every year, we’d have $5,000, assuming 5% interest”, McBride said.

Jill Tallman, Chair of the Jacob’s Pond Board of Trustees, is pleased with the vote.

“I think that they finally realized that we did what we were asked to do by the town – to prove that we did not in fact pollute the pond. We did give a contribution to the Conservation Commission several years ago and I think as they said tonight, that it was policy and procedure – the ZBA did nothing wrong – they were trying to institute what they’ve been asked to do as a board. We were all coming here tonight and looking for a very favorable decision, which is what we got”!

Selectman David DeCoste was the only selectman to vote against the motion not to collect the fees.

About John Penny

John Penny is a town news reporter at WATD. He primarily covers stories in the towns of Marshfield, Cohasset, Scituate, Norwell, Hingham, Abington and Quincy.