Barnstable Board of Health May Lift Nutrient Restriction Regulations

Barnstable Town Hall.

HYANNIS – The Barnstable Board of Health will discuss the possibility of lifting interim regulations established a decade ago to improve water quality during a public hearing Tuesday.

The regulations, which limit development in certain areas of town, were put in place to restrict nitrogen flow into all of the town’s water resources.

Development restrictions include the size of a property and the number of bedrooms in areas, primarily south of Route 6, where there are concerns about nutrient runoff and an overload of septic systems.

Local environmental groups are opposing the proposed amendment to rescind the regulations.

Barnstable Clean Water Coalition Executive Director Zenas Crocker said the regulations should not be rescinded but examined further.

“Let’s look at sustainable development,” Crocker said. “Let’s look at creating a group that can help the Board of Health look at these regulations in a really thoughtful manner rather than lifting an entire area.”

Crocker said alternative septic system technologies should be studied.

“Most importantly, the sewering plan and the municipal treatment plan that the town is working on needs to be put in place,” Crocker said.

Crocker said he has talked with engineers who said homeowners had been looking at innovative alternative septic system technology which are designed to produce less nutrients and less nitrogen.

“They said, if this passes, they won’t have to put those in and they’ll put in regular Title 5 systems,” Crocker said.

“Regular Title 5 systems just don’t do the job in terms of nutrient reduction and that’s why we are under the so called 208 plan from the U.S. EPA.”

According to town officials, the amendment has been proposed because regulations were only meant to be temporary and initiatives have been but in place to address nitrogen reduction in waterways.

A public hearing will also be held on a proposal to further limit smoking in town.

The meeting is at 3 p.m. at town hall.

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