Over a year ago, the town of Lenox appointed a Watershed Study Committee to determine if the almost 950 acres of town-owned watershed land surrounding the town’s reservoirs should be further protected and, if so, how.
The committee determined that the lands were an important open space asset and deserved strong and permanent protection. After examining a number of options -- existing DEP oversight, "Article 97," zoning bylaws, or an overlay district -- the group concluded that a conservation restriction or "CR" offered the best protection.
The committee spent several months drafting a proposed CR, guided by several principles:
* The town must retain control of the land.
* The CR could not place any burden or limits on the town’s management, improvement and expansion of the water supply infrastructure.
* The CR must meet legal standards for approval by the DEP and the EOEEA, the parent agency to the DEP and the final state approval agency.
The CR leaves the town in full ownership, management and control of the land; carves out more than 100 acres around the reservoirs where the town can do anything needed to manage the town’s water supply; and, requires 90-day notice only -- not approval -- for projects outside the 100 acres.
This area can also be expanded for water supply purposes. Management of passive recreation, hunting and fishing remains the responsibility of the town.
The Watershed Committee, the Lenox Conservation Commission, the Lenox Board of Selectmen, and the Richmond Conservation Commission (a few acres of the 950-acre town-owned parcel lie within the Richmond boundary) have supported the CR unanimously. DEP and the EOEEA have issued favorable reviews.
We are asking you to vote "yes" on Article 22 and adopt the CR, at the town of Lenox annual town meeting on Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Duffin Theater of Lenox Memorial Middle and High School.