Norwell: Planning Board expresses reservations regarding economic development zoning proposals

Norwell’s economic development committee met with the town’s planning board and board of selectmen recently, to discuss their proposals for zoning changes to foster economic development.

The committees is seeking support for several zoning by-law amendments, such as increasing building height restrictions from 3 to 4 stories and decreasing the no-build zone from 50 feet from a wetland to 25 feet for a building and 10 feet for other structures, such as a driveway or detention basin.

However, the committee definitely felt some heat as the planning board expressed reservations on the issue of changing wetland setbacks.

Economic Development Committee Chair Rick Merritt tackled the issue and said, “I definitely saw some push back there. I don’t know if the push back was personal, from a feeling that the wetlands are sacred, or whether there needs to more done to convince the board that you can develop closer to the wetlands, without endangering them.”

Annual town meeting is in May and Planning Board Chairman Peggy Etzel said she feels pressured to support the complex zoning articles, given the short period of time before printing the annual town meeting warrant.

“I guess I just feel like I’m being pressured and I’m just one member, but I feel like the board is being pressured into doing this immediately within a month and rewriting completely our business zoning on the flip of a dime.”

The zoning changes would not affect zoning in Norwell center.


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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.