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FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

 

Q: Do I need to file an application with the conservation commission for any work near a lake, stream and/or wetland?


A:  You need to file a Form 1 (Request for Determination of Applicability) for the Commission to determine if you are within wetland boundaries, a Form 3 (Notice of Intent) if you intend to work within 100 feet of a wetland area or pond or within 200 feet of a river. You do not need to file for normal maintenance of existing lawns (mowing, trimming hedges).

 


Q:  Which wetlands are protected?


A:  All wetlands are protected under State Laws and Regulations.  Any proposed project within 200 feet of a wetland area including but not limited to wetlands, marshes, bogs, streams, lakes, ponds etc., requires review and approval to ensure that no adverse impacts will be made to the resource areas. Perennial rivers are protected for 200 linear feet extending from the top of bank with a maximum 10% disturbance in the outer 100 to 200 feet.  No additional disturbance beyond this is allowed.  It should be noted that this disturbance is the maximum allowed in extreme cases and not a right of the applicant.

Q: What are buffer zones?

A: Wetlands, rivers, streams and ponds don't thrive in isolation, but depend on the land surrounding them to keep them healthy. buffer zones were set up by the State and Town to help keep wetlands healthy and do what they do best; filtering out stormwater runoff pollutants, providing habitats for wildlife and securing river and stream banks against erosion. Without wetlands to absorb excess water during periods of heavy rain, many inhabited areas would be flooded.


Q:  What forms do I use?


A:  Form 1 - Request for Determination of Applicability is used when the applicant makes a request to the Commission to determine if the Wetlands Protection Act applies to the proposed project.


Form 3 - Notice of Intent is used for projects such as new home construction, septic repairs/upgrades, additions, or other activities in wetland areas. Once the Commission receives a form application with associated fees, our Wetland Consultant will perform a site evaluation and make a recommendation to the Commission. If the Notice of Intent is approved, the Commissioners will issue an Order of Conditions. The applicant is responsible for recording the Order on the property’s deed at the Registry of Deeds in Worcester within 15 days of receipt of the Order. Failure to record will result in the Order being declared null and void and the applicant is required to begin the filing process again, including all fees and notices.

 

Abbreviated Notice of Resource Area Delineation - an applicant will file an ANRAD application to have the wetland resource area delineation approved by the Conservation Commission, usually for large parcels of land.  Once the delineation is approved, then the applicant can design a project to avoid the wetland resource areas.

 

Form 7 – Extension to Existing Order of Conditions – if the approved project has not been completed by the expiration date of the Order of Conditions, the applicant must file and have approved a Request for Extension before the expiration date of the existing Order. If the Order has expired, the applicant can no longer work on the project and must re-apply for a new Order of Conditions, including all associated fees and Public Notices.

 

Form 8 – Request for Certificate of Compliance – once the project is completed, the applicant should file a Form 8 – Request for Certificate of Compliance. The Wetland Consultant will perform a site evaluation to determine if the work was completed according the Order of Conditions. If completed, the Wetland Consultant will recommend that the Commissioners approve a Certificate of Compliance. Once the Certificate of Compliance is issued, the applicant must file it at the Registry of Deeds to remove the Order from the property’s deed.

  

If you are unsure which form to file, please contact the Conservation Office.



Q:  Why can't I fill in the little swamp in the backyard?


A:  All wetlands, including small seasonal wetlands are important filter areas which help clean and purify stormwater, surface water and drainage areas prior to surface water reentering critical resource areas such as rivers, streams, and drinking water sources.  Some small seasonal wetlands are Vernal Pools and are home to many salamanders, wood frogs, insects, fairy shrimp and other species that can not exist without these vernal pools.


Q:  How far from a pond am I allowed to construct an addition to my home?


A:  Any proposed construction within 100 feet of the high water mark must be reviewed by the Conservation Commission. Filing of a Form 1 – Request for Determination of Applicability or Form 3 Notice of Intent is required. The Conservation Commission or its agent reviews the project to make sure there will be no adverse impacts to the wetland area and to ensure that erosion controls protect the resource area during construction.


Q:  What lawn chemicals are safe to use along the pond?


A:  No herbicides, pesticides or fertilizers are allowed to be used with in the first 100 feet of any resource area.  No quick release chemicals are allowed with in the first 200 feet of any resource area.

Q:  Am I allowed to expand the beach area for my home?


A:  No beach expansion is allowed below the high water mark.  High water mark is the highest level the water rises at any location.   Beachfronts that were in existence prior to 1993 can be maintained with approval by the Conservation Commission. No beach sand maintenance is allowed to beachfront areas not in existence after 1993. For beachfronts prior to 1993, you must file a Form 3 - Notice of Intent for beach sand maintenance. If approved, the Commissioners will issue an Order of Conditions for a three-year period. The Order may be extended for additional 3-year periods. Submission of extension requests are the applicant’s responsibility and must be submitted and approved before the expiration date of the Order of Conditions. If the Order has expired, a new Notice of Intent filing must be completed, along with applicable fees and other procedures as required for a Notice of Intent.


Q:  Do I need to file an application to trim the trees along the lake?


A:  Yes, tree trimming or tree cutting permits can be obtained by submitting a Form 1 Request for Determination of Applicability to the commission. The Conservation Commission or its agent will perform a site evaluation and recommend either a negative or positive determination. If a positive determination is approved, the applicant must then file a Notice of Intent.


Q:  After I submit my application, when will I have a Public Hearing?


A:  The commission meets every three weeks on a Thursday barring holidays and snow days, unless otherwise posted.  Once you submit your application, the Wetland Consultant will perform a site evaluation and make a recommendation to the Commission. Your application will be scheduled for the next available meeting.  Hearings are scheduled on a first-come first-served basis starting at 6:30 PM. The deadline for an application to be considered for the next meeting is two weeks prior to the meeting date. Due to a heavy volume of applications and scheduled meeting dates, it is possible that the waiting period from application submittal to first hearing to be approximately 1 to 1.5 months.

 

Q:  What if I notice someone violating the Wetlands Protection Act?

 

A:  You may talk with the person, if you feel comfortable doing so; or you can contact the Conservation Commission office to report the incident. Our wetland consultant will perform a site visit to determine if there are any violations. All calls remain confidential.
 
Dudley Conservation Commission
71 West Main Street, Suite 8, Dudley, MA 01571
Phone: 508-949-8011
Emails: conservation@dudleyma.gov
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