Town of Ashland, MA
Middlesex County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Conservation Commission of the Town of Ashland 1-24-2011. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Stormwater management — See Ch. 247.
Wetlands protection — See Ch. 280.
Zoning — See Ch. 282.
Subdivision of land — See Ch. 344.
These regulations are promulgated by the Ashland Conservation Commission ("Commission") under the authority of the Code of the Town of Ashland, Chapter 280, Wetlands Protection.
The purpose of these regulations is to protect the wetlands, water resources, flood prone areas, and adjoining upland areas in the Town of Ashland by controlling activities deemed by the Commission likely to have a significant or cumulative effect on resource area values, including but not limited to the following: public or private water supply, groundwater supply, flood control, erosion and sedimentation control, storm damage prevention, water quality, prevention and control of pollution, wildlife habitat, rare species habitat including rare plant and animal species, agriculture, and aquaculture, deemed important to the community. The failure of these regulations to address all aspects of the bylaw, or a legal declaration of their invalidity in part or in whole, shall not act to suspend or invalidate the effect of the bylaw.
Bylaw filing fees are payable at the time of application and are not refundable. Fees are calculated by the Commission or its agent according to the schedule below. These fees are in addition to any fee(s) set forth under the Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act and 310 CMR 10.00 and as required by the Application Process set out by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts pursuant thereto.
Notice of Intent (Permit Application). The bylaw filing fee for a permit application shall be calculated using the following schedule. Categories are those used in determining fees under the state Wetlands Protection Act. A full explanation of these categories can be found in the instructions for filing a Notice of Intent from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (BRP WPA Form 3 as amended).
Type of Activity (see BRP WPA Form 3 for complete list)
Town Bylaw Fee
Category 1
Work on existing single-family lot (pool, addition, etc)
Category 2
Construction of single-family house, crossing for driveway, etc.
Category 3
Commercial building, road construction, etc.
Category 4
Crossing for development or commercial road, bridge, etc.
Category 5
Work on docks, piers, dikes, or other engineering structures in inland resource areas
$4/linear foot (not less than $100, not more than $2,000)
Category 6*
Resource area delineation review
$2/linear foot (with limit of $200 for single-family lot, $2000 all others)
Category 6 includes boundary delineations for vegetated wetlands as part of a permit application (Notice of Intent), or a Notice of Resource Area Delineation, or a Request for Determination of Applicability.
Other application fees:
Request for Determination of Applicability (without boundary delineation)
Request for Permit Extension
Amended Notice of Intent (significant revision)
Certificate of Compliance (includes partial)
single family lot
all other projects
Reissuance of any Order, Determination or Certificate (includes true copy attest)
If there is an enforcement order or there is proposed activity for which a building permit is not required, then the Applicant may be required to pay the Commission for the Recording of an Order of Conditions at the Registry of Deeds
Shall have the same meaning as set forth in § 280-6 which states: "any bordering vegetated wetlands, Vernal Pools, springs, banks, reservoirs, lakes, ponds, beaches, and lands under water bodies; intermittent streams, brooks and creeks; lands adjoining these resource areas out to a distance of 100 feet, known as the Buffer Zone."
As defined in § 280-5 where in the bylaw provides that the Vernal Pool need not be certified and the Vernal Pool need not be within another resource area to be protected by the bylaw.
Buffer Zone protection.
Preamble. Buffer Zones are likely to be significant to the wetland interests and values identified in § 280-1, the Act and 310 CMR 10.00 et seq.
Presumption of Significance. When a proposed activity involves the removing, filling, dredging, building upon, or altering of a Buffer Zone, the Commission shall presume that protection of the Buffer Zone is significant to the interests in the bylaw and may impose conditions as to how and to what extent the work can be conducted therein. This presumption is rebuttable and may be overcome upon a clear showing that the Buffer Zone does not play a role in the protection of those interests or that the proposed work protects the intent of the bylaw. In the event that the Commission finds that the presumption has been overcome, it shall make a written determination including the Commission's basis therefore and/or impose conditions which protect the interest as set forth in the bylaw.
Performance Standards. The portion of a Buffer Zone extending 25 feet from the wetland, bank, or waterbody defining the Buffer Zone's inner edge, is designated a No Disturb Zone.
No Disturb Zone:
Alterations, including but not limited to grading, landscaping, mowing, removing of vegetation, filling, excavating, operation of vehicles or machinery, and paving, shall not be permitted in a No Disturb Zone.
Structures, including but not limited to porches, decks, pools, and sheds, shall not be constructed or placed within a No Disturb Zone.
Notwithstanding any of the foregoing prohibitions, the Commission may allow disturbances, such as crossings, through a No Disturb Zone by waiver, as provided in § 348-3D of these regulations, when no other practicable alternative exists. Petitions for a waiver shall be included in writing in the Notice of Intent filed under the bylaw. The applicant shall provide information and evidence deemed satisfactory by the Commission that the work to be performed sufficiently protects or enhances wetland interests.
The rest of the Buffer Zone: No activity shall be permitted in the Buffer Zone that has the potential to harm resource areas, including No Disturb Zones, with respect to the interests of the bylaw.
Protection of Vernal Pools.
Preamble. Vernal Pools and their surrounding areas provide important wildlife habitat. They are increasingly rare and are inhabited by many species of wildlife, some of which are totally dependent on Vernal Pools for their survival. The wood frog (Rana sylvatica) and all species of mole salamander (Ambystoma spp.) that occur in Massachusetts breed only in Vernal Pools, and use the surrounding upland habitat for their other habitat needs, such as feeding, shelter, and over-wintering.
Presumption of Significance.
Any confined depression which, at least in most years, holds some water for at least two continuous months during the spring or summer will be presumed to be essential breeding habitat and provide other extremely important habitat functions during the non-breeding season for a variety of wildlife, particularly amphibian species.
Pools occurring in lawns, landscaped area, or driveways are presumed not significant as wildlife habitat.
This presumption may be overcome by a clear showing that the presumed Vernal Pool does not and cannot meet the defining criteria set forth by the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program (NHESP), in March 2009, for Vernal Pool certification, or the most recent criteria set forth by NHESP.
Certification of a Vernal Pool under the state program is not required for protection under the bylaw or these regulations.
Because of the seasonal nature of Vernal Pools, the Commission may require that evidence presented to overcome this presumption be gathered during the spring or summer during a year in which the level and duration of water in the pool is at or above average.
Performance Standards
Within a Vernal Pool and its Buffer Zone, no activity or alteration is permitted unless it is shown to the Commission's satisfaction that a proposed activity will have no detrimental effect on the habitat value of the Vernal Pool.
Activities and alterations include, but are not limited to removal or alteration of vegetation; removal or alteration of natural ground cover including leaves, logs, and other vegetative litter; grading; landscaping; filling; construction or placement of structures or pavement of any sort.
The Commission may allow limited alterations to areas that, in their existing condition and use, do not serve a significant habitat function.
Waivers and Mitigation.
The performance standards for wetland resource areas have been adopted to ensure that the interests protected by the bylaw are adequately protected.
Waivers may be granted by the Commission when the applicant demonstrates that the requested waiver is consistent with the intent and purpose of the bylaw and regulations.
The applicant shall have the burden of demonstrating that the granting of the waiver is consistent with the intent and purpose of the bylaw and these regulations.
The Commission shall act on all waiver requests and shall provide to the applicant a written decision on said request.
A request for a waiver must include sufficient and reliable information which demonstrates:
that sufficient wetland resource area function and value and adjacent upland habitat will remain such that the interests of the Act and bylaw are protected,
that likely use and maintenance of the altered area will have no detrimental effect on water quality of the adjacent resource area or quality of the remaining habitat area, and
that the work to be performed sufficiently protects or enhances wetland interests.
In cases where a waiver is granted, the Commission may require mitigation measures to be implemented to offset potential impacts to the wetland resource areas.
The mitigation must maintain or improve the natural capacity of a resource area to achieve the interests protected by the bylaw.
In its discretion, the Commission may require that mitigation be implemented and demonstrated to be functioning before alterations permitted by the waiver may begin.
[Amended 11-20-2019 STM, Art. 13]
As provided by MGL c. 44 § 53G, the Ashland Conservation Commission ("Commission") may impose upon the applicant reasonable fees for the employment of outside consultants, engaged by the Commission, for specific expert services deemed necessary by the Commission to come to a decision on an application submitted to the Commission pursuant to the requirements of the Wetlands Protection Act (MGL c. 131, § 40), the Ashland Wetlands Protection Bylaw (§ 280-1), the Commission Act (MGL c. 40, § 8C), or any other state or municipal statute, bylaw or regulation, as they may be amended or enacted from time to time.
Funds received by the Commission pursuant to these rules shall be deposited with the town treasurer who shall establish a special account for this purpose. Expenditures from this special account may be made at the direction of the Commission without further appropriation as provided in MGL c. 44, § 53G. Expenditures from this account shall be made only in connection with the review of a specific project or projects for which a consultant fee has been collected from the applicant.
Specific consultant services may include but are not limited to:
resource area survey and delineation,
analysis of resource area values,
hydrogeologic and drainage analysis,
impacts on municipal conservation lands, and
environmental or land use law.
The consultant shall be chosen by the Commission in accordance with the parameters set forth in MGL c. 44, § 53G, and report only to the Commission or its Agent. The Commission shall give written notice to the applicant of the selection of an outside consultant, which notice shall state:
the identity of the consultant,
the amount of the fee to be charged to the applicant, and
a request for payment of said fee in its entirety.
Such notice shall be deemed to have been given on the date it is mailed or delivered. No such costs or expenses shall be incurred by the applicant if the application or request is withdrawn within five business days of the date notice is given.
The fee must be received in its entirety prior to the initiation of consulting services. The Commission may request additional consultant fees if necessary review requires a larger expenditure than originally anticipated or new information requires additional consultant services. Failure by the applicant to pay the consultant fee specified by the Commission within ten (10) business days of the request for payment may be a basis for the Commission to deny the permit application for lack of information.
The applicant may appeal the selection of the outside consultant to the Select Board, who may disqualify the outside consultant selected only on the grounds that the consultant has a conflict of interest or does not possess the minimum required qualifications. The minimum qualifications shall consist of either an educational degree or three or more years of practice in the field at issue or a related field. Such an appeal must be in writing and received by the Ashland Select Board and a copy received by the Commission, so as to be received within ten (10) business days of the date consultant fees were requested by the Commission. The required time limits for action upon the application shall be extended by the duration of the administrative appeal. In the event that no decision is made by the Select Board within one month following the filing of the appeal, the selection made by the Commission shall stand.
Purpose. The purpose of this Regulation is to ensure that all actions of the Commission are in accordance with the requirements of the new Open Meeting Law effective July 1, 2010, Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 30A, §§ 18-25, as amended. Under that statute, all "materials" filed with or presented to the Commission become part of the Commission's record. Pursuant to the Open Meeting Law, the Commission hereby adopts this Regulation to handle the burden the new Law imposes with regard to the storage of submitted "materials."
Definitions. The term "Materials" shall include all items in any format including but not limited to hardcopy and electronic formats, regardless of whether they are formally filed with the Commission or simply presented at a public meeting.
General provisions.
In accordance with the Open Meeting Law, copies of all Materials must be submitted to the Commission.
All Materials submitted to the Commission that are larger than 8 1/2 x 11 inches must be accompanied by an 8 1/2 x 11 inch version unbound and in an electronic version that is readable either in Word or Adobe Acrobat.
Enforcement. The Commission shall require that all Materials be properly submitted prior to taking any action on the application before it.