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The Conservation Restriction for Lenox Mountain Watershed

Lenox will vote on the Conservation Restriction (CR) that will permanently protect the central portion of Lenox Mountain from commercial, industrial, and residential development.

 

It will take a two-thirds vote by town residents at the annual town meeting to pass the CR.

 

The meeting begins at 7pm, Thursday, May 2nd at the Lenox Memorial Middle High School (197 East Street)

If you are a Lenox town resident, attend the town meeting and vote!

Hang in there, don’t leave early, because the CR Article will be at the very end of the meeting.

 

THIS IS OUR CHANCE!

Please make every effort to support the passage of Article 22 on the Lenox Town Warrant — there is nothing more important you can do this week.

 

CALL all your friends, family and neighbors in Lenox to explain the CR and to get them to attend the meeting and vote.

 

 

Article 22 on the 2013 Town Meeting Warrant

 


Short answers to common questions:

 

Why have the CR?  What is the purpose?

The purpose of the proposed CR is to add an extra layer of permanent protection that will safeguard Lenox Mountain forever as a conservation area, whether or not it is used for the town’s water supply. This land is a great asset to the Town of Lenox and its visitors. Thanks to the earlier work of BNRC, Mass Audubon and Kennedy Park, most of Lenox Mountain is permanently protected already — a CR on the watershed will mean Lenox Mountain is permanently conserved for public benefit and enjoyment all the way from the top of Bousquet in the north, to Olivia’s Overlook in the south.

 

How do I vote in favor of the CR?

Attend the Town of Lenox’s annual meeting at 7pm on Thursday May 2nd at the Lenox Middle High School at 197 East Street and Vote YES on Article 22.

In order to vote you must be a resident of the Town of Lenox. Please note that Article 22 is near the end of the town warrant (22 of 24 articles) – if you leave early you will lose your chance to vote.

What will be the effect of the CR on the watershed?

The Town of Lenox will continue to own, manage and control the land for the benefit of the Town for the purpose noted above.

The Town will have full authority to manage and improve the watershed, water supply infrastructure, forest, trails, roads, culverts, gates, etc, subject to ongoing oversight by the MA Department of Environmental Protection, as is the case today.

Residential, commercial and industrial development will be prohibited. The co-holders (see below) will have legal authority to enforce these prohibitions.

Non-motorized public recreation (foot, ski, snowshoe, bicycle) on identified trails and woods roads will be permitted. The Town may close certain trails to the public if access creates a threat to public health or safety. The CR co-holders do not have the right to create new trails.

Recreational activities such as hunting, fishing, swimming, camping etc. remain under control of the Town, subject to DEP regulations and guidelines. Motorized recreational use is prohibited.

Who “holds” and enforces the terms of the CR?

The Lenox Conservation Commission and Berkshire Natural Resources Council will co-hold the CR.
The role of the co-holders is to ensure that the terms of the CR are upheld.

Who is paying for this?

Most costs associated with the CR will be covered by BNRC. Lenox will be responsible for cost of its own legal review of the final document and preparation of title description prior to recordation.

How big is the area being protected?

Approximately 950 Acres including 15 acres being donated by the Berkshire Natural Resources Council.

Where can I read the CR document itself?

A draft of the CR has been posted on the Lenox Town Website.  Click here to get the pdf.  We encourage everyone to read, or at least skim, the text of the CR.

Will the CR restrict the Lenox Water Department from managing the watershed or add an additional layer of bureaucracy?

No, the CR will not put a heavy burden on the Water Department. Lenox can do anything with the water supply without approval of the CR co-holders.  During the past year of meetings by the Watershed Committee, a great deal of work has gone into ensuring that the Water Department’s traditional management of the watershed will not be impacted in any way.

Couldn’t the same thing be accomplished by Article 97 protection, zoning or other regulations?

No, there are many loopholes and uncertainties in Article 97, zoning and other regulatory overlays — The CR is the strongest, most permanent way of continuing to protect the watershed land from development.

I like to hike or bike the trails there.  Will I still be able to do that once the CR is adopted?

Yes, recreational use of the trails will be allowed for non-motorized use (foot, ski, snowshoe, bicycle).

Will I be able to hunt or fish?

If the Town of Lenox gives permission.  The CR specifically leaves all decisions about hunting and fishing in the hands of the town of Lenox where they always have been (See paragraph 5.4 on page 16).

Will the CR co-holders be able to “control” the Lenox Water Department?

No.  The CR holders cannot “control” the town or the land — other than blocking specific types of development (See paragraph 3. Prohibited Uses).  In fact, 6 pages of the CR are devoted to specifically preserving the rights of Lenox and the Lenox Water Department to continue it’s management of the land as a water supply and natural forested area (See paragraph 4. Reserved Rights).

What are the differences between the CR rejected in 2007 and the currently proposed CR?

In 2007 the town would have sacrificed much of its control in exchange for $1 million; the CR from 2007 would have been held by State Division of Fish & Wildlife. This time the town keeps control; the proposed CR will be held locally by the Lenox Conservation Committee and the Berkshire Natural Resources Council as co-holders.  Under the 2007 CR, expansion and improvement of the water supply infrastructure would have required state DFW approval; in 2013 work related to the water supply requires no approvals, and in most cases will not even require notice to the co-holders.  The 2007 CR would have obliged the town to allow hunting and fishing.  This CR leaves those uses in the control of the town.  This CR places very little burden on the Town and the public works department compared to the earlier version.  It simply affirms and makes permanent the traditional uses and management of the watershed.

Can the CR be changed in the future?

Yes, under compelling circumstances, the CR can be amended.

Where will the CR be located?  What is the “Operations Envelope”?

(Click on the picture to see it full size.)

MORE about the Conservation Restriction:

Timeline:

September 2012, The Watershed Study Committee unanimously recommended that the Town of Lenox pursue the idea of placing a permanent Conservation Restriction (CR) on the town’s watershed lands on Lenox Mountain.

Watershed Study Committee appointed by the Board of Selectmen

Members of the Watershed Study Committee include:

Selectman John McNinch, Moderator

Neal Carpenter and David Lane, Lenox Conservation Commission

Jeff Vincent and Rick Fuore, Lenox Public Works Department;

Lenox Residents:

Warren Archey, Eugene Chague, Jo Anne Magee and Thomas Romeo

Richmond resident:

Deborah Caine

Tad Ames, Berkshire Natural Resources Council.


February 28, 2013, the committee unanimously approved the draft of the CR and sent it to the Selectmen for final approval and placement on the Annual Town Meeting Warrant for Town approval

 

April 26, 2013, Lenox Board of Selectman voted unanimously to support the CR warrant to be presented at the annual town meeting

 

May 2, 2013, The upcoming Lenox Annual Town Meeting, The CR is Article #22 on the town meeting warrant.  It needs a two-thirds vote to be adopted.

 


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