GROTON -- In their first comments on a draft prepared by the Wetland's Bylaw Review Committee detailing changes made after efforts by the Groton Electric Light Department's application to get plans approved for a new headquarters complex on Station Avenue, town officials expressed criticism regarding confusing language and vague definitions.
"We got the fact that this is an imperfect thing," said committee member Robert Pine, who reviewed the draft before selectmen Monday.
Pine was responding to observations made by selectmen that wording in the key amending language regarding exemptions was too confusing and that in other places, words such as "intermittent streams" and "structures" were not specific enough.
"Could beaver dams be considered structures?" board member Joshua Degen asked, half-seriously.
"We are making the wording of this bylaw less restrictive," said Pine.
"It doesn't sound that way to me," said Degen.
The Wetland's Bylaw Review Committee was created earlier in the year following concerns raised during a protracted review process concerning approval of GELD's plan to build a new highway office and garage complex off Station Avenue.
GELD's first application was rejected by the Conservation Commission, which refused to bend on the issue of a partial intrusion by the proposed building into a 100-foot buffer zone surrounding nearby wetlands.
Although after reapplying, GELD's plan was approved, the overly stringent regulations by which the Conservation Commission conducted its review was criticized and the Wetland's Bylaw Review Committee was established by selectmen to see if anything could be done to make the process easier.
"I think this was a really good process," said Pine of the committee's work in drafting changes to the bylaw. "This is the way a bylaw should be reviewed. No agendas got in the way of anything."
With the committee having drawn up a draft of recommended changes to the bylaw, members embarked on a round of visits with the town's land-use boards, beginning with selectmen.
The major change in the bylaw Pine told selectmen at their meeting of July 29, was in the exemptions portions where wording was amended to grant land owners more freedom to work within the 100 foot buffer zone.
But on closer examination by selectmen, it appeared the suggested language was not only vague but contradictory, seeming to give more freedom on one hand while upholding stringent protections for the buffer zone.
Other concerns raised by selectmen included such definitions as that for intermittent streams and the accuracy of maps cited for use and identification of streams.
Committee members intended to complete their round of visitations for more input before returning to discussion. In the fall, a public hearing on a subsequent draft will be held ahead of submitting the final recommended changes to Town Meeting for approval.