While I can understand the need to protect wetlands, there’s something wrong here:
Doug and Tammy Nicoll spoke at the hearing, arguing that they had been given permission in the 1990s to mow their lawn and were shown by inspectors where to cut. The board found them in violation anyway but did not order them to restore the grass or give them a fine. The board recommended that they stop mowing, adding that they could apply for a permit.
That’s right: the Nicolls had permission to mow:
During the same  hearing, they were told they could mow, according to transcripts provided by the Nicolls, who obtained them under the Freedom of Information Act.
The transcript shows that a member of the city’s staff used a photograph to detail where the Nicolls could mow.
It also shows that [Cynthia] Hall, the [Norfolk Deputy] city attorney, attended the meeting but did not address the mowing issue. A permit for mowing was not mentioned.
At some point in the last 20 years, you’d think somebody would have advised the Nicolls that they needed a permit to mow their lawn.
My guess? The other folks did something that garnered the attention of the city’s wetlands board:
Deanne Pulliam and Patricia Yeiser were given 120 days to work together on a plan to update their properties to avoid future violations. They had also received notices for storing or installing recreational equipment in wetlands. The board will rule on their cases after the owners present the plan.
And the Nicolls were just caught up in the sweep. The current board probably just looked and saw that the Nicolls lacked a permit. I doubt they looked back at 20-year-old transcripts. But as soon as they became aware of them, they should have backed off and quietly asked the Nicolls to obtain a permit. Or just given them a permit.
A little honey goes a long way, folks.