Wellfleet, MA properties at risk / Flickr

Massachusetts: State coastal agency again oversteps local boards

In Shakespeare’s classic tragedy “Macbeth,” the title character muses at one point about a rival who is next in line for the throne, darkly musing: “That is a step on which I must fall down, or else o’erleap, for in my way it lies” as he ponders his future.

Cape Cod. By NASA

For those on the Cape looking to subvert the will of local conservation commissions, the pathway allowing them to leap over opposition often means a trip to Boston and the state Department of Environmental Protection, which at least as often as not seems to side with homeowners over those who are seeking to preserve the environmental integrity of our communities.

The latest version of this sort of overreach involves a rare DEP permit allowing for the construction of a 241-foot long rock revetment to help protect one home in Wellfleet from sliding down an eroding dune. Apparently, the fact that the National Park Service, the Wellfleet Conservation Commission, the town’s Shellfish Advisory Board, and the Wellfleet Board of Selectmen opposed the move was not enough to torpedo the proposal. The Conservation Commission voted against permitting the project in December.

At issue is a house owned by James Hoeland of Pennsylvania, who purchased the property in 2012 for $4.6 million. The house is located on Chequessett Neck Road and commands what must be spectacular views of Wellfleet Harbor. But living in such a precarious location comes at a risk; a risk that anyone who lives on coastal property is all too familiar with. Namely, that the rising tides of the Atlantic Ocean have been working diligently to recapture the shorelines of our peninsula for the past few centuries.

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