Town of Sterling, MA
Worcester County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town of Sterling 5-11-2009 ATM by Art. 39, approved with caution 9-3-2009; readopted 5-14-2012 ATM by Art. 19, approved 10-11-2012. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Agricultural Districts — See Ch. 6.
Earth removal — See Ch. 63.
Retention and detention ponds — See Ch. 142.
Storm drains — See Ch. 162.

§ 164-1 Purpose.

The purpose of this bylaw is to protect the public health, safety, environment and general welfare by establishing requirements and procedures to manage stormwater runoff, promote groundwater recharge and to prevent water pollution from new development and redevelopment. This bylaw seeks to meet that purpose through the following objectives:
Establish regulations for land development activities that preserve the health of water resources;
Require that the amount and quality of stormwater runoff from new development is equal to or better than pre-development conditions in order to reduce flooding, stream erosion, pollution, property damage and harm to aquatic life;
Establish stormwater management standards and design criteria to control the quantity and quality of stormwater runoff;
Encourage the use of low-impact development practices, such as reducing impervious cover and preserving greenspace and other natural areas;
Establish maintenance provisions to ensure that stormwater treatment practices will continue to function as designed and pose no threat to public safety;
Establish procedures for the Town's review of stormwater management plans and for the Town's inspection of approved stormwater treatment practices.
Nothing in this bylaw is intended to replace the requirements of the Town of Sterling Floodplain District, the Stillwater River Protection District, the Aquifer and Water Resource Protection District or any other bylaw that may be adopted by the Town of Sterling. Any activity subject to the provisions of the above-cited bylaws must comply with the specifications of each.

§ 164-2 Definitions.

Definitions of this bylaw shall apply in the interpretation and implementation of the bylaw. Terms not defined shall be understood according to their customary and usual meaning. Additional definitions may be adopted by separate regulation.
Any activity, which will measurably change the ability of a ground surface area to absorb water or will change existing surface drainage patterns.
Site design techniques that can reduce environmental impacts, such as protecting existing vegetation, reducing impervious areas, and using natural drainage ways for stormwater management.
Land uses or activities with higher potential pollutant loadings, such as auto salvage yards, auto fueling facilities, fleet storage yards, commercial parking lots with high-intensity use, road salt storage areas, commercial nurseries and landscaping, outdoor storage and loading areas of hazardous substances, or marinas.
A material or a structure that prevents water from entering the underlying soil, such as paved parking lots, paved roads, sidewalks, and buildings.
Low-impact practices allow for the reduction of impervious areas that result in smaller volumes required for stormwater storage. These site design techniques can reduce the size and costs of stormwater collection systems and detention basins.
The policy issued by the State Department of Environmental Protection, which provides performance standards to prevent water pollution and control the amount of runoff from new development.
Any individual, group of individuals, association, partnership, corporation, company, trust, estate, a political subdivision of the commonwealth or the federal government, to the extent subject to the bylaws of the Town of Sterling.
The conditions that reasonably may be expected after completion of the land development activity on a specific site or tract of land. Post-development does not refer to the construction phase of a project.
The conditions that exist at the time that plans for the land development of a tract of land are submitted to the Planning Board. Where phased development or plan approval occurs (preliminary grading, roads and utilities, etc.), the existing conditions at the time prior to the first plan submission shall establish pre-development conditions.
Any construction, alteration, or improvement exceeding land disturbance of 10,000 square feet, where the existing land use is commercial, or institutional.
A permit issued by the Conservation Commission, which protects the streams, lakes and water supplies in the Town from the adverse affects of uncontrolled and untreated stormwater runoff.
Structures and techniques that prevent flooding, reduce pollution, and protect local rivers, streams, lakes and water supplies.

§ 164-3 Authority.

This bylaw is adopted under authority granted by the Home Rule Amendment of the Massachusetts Constitution, the home rule statutes, and pursuant to the regulations of the Federal Clean Water Act found at 40 CFR 122.34.

§ 164-4 Administration.

The Conservation Commission shall administer, implement and enforce this bylaw. Any powers granted to or duties imposed upon the Conservation Commission may be delegated in writing by the Conservation Commission to its employees or agents.
Stormwater regulations. The Conservation Commission may adopt, and periodically amend, rules and regulations relating to the terms, conditions, definitions, enforcement, fees (including application, inspection, and/or consultant fees), procedures and administration of this Stormwater Management Bylaw by majority vote of the Conservation Commission, after conducting a public hearing to receive comments on any proposed revisions. Such hearing dates shall be advertised twice at intervals of at least seven days prior to the hearing date in a newspaper of general local circulation. After public notice and public hearing, the Conservation Commission may promulgate rules and regulations to effectuate the purposes of this bylaw. Failure by the Conservation Commission to promulgate such rules and regulations or a legal declaration of their invalidity by a court shall not act to suspend or invalidate the effect of this bylaw.
Stormwater management handbook. The Conservation Commission will utilize the policy, criteria and information, including specifications and standards, of the latest edition of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection Stormwater Handbook for execution of the provisions of this bylaw. This Handbook includes a list of acceptable stormwater treatment practices, including the specific design criteria for each stormwater practice. This Mass DEP Handbook may be updated and expanded periodically, based on improvements in engineering, science, monitoring, and local maintenance experience. Unless specifically altered in the Sterling bylaw regulations, stormwater management practices that are designed, constructed, and maintained in accordance with these design and sizing criteria will be presumed to be protective of Massachusetts water quality standards.
Actions by the Conservation Commission. The Conservation Commission may take any of the following actions as a result of an application for a stormwater management permit as more specifically defined as part of stormwater regulations promulgated as a result of this bylaw: approval, approval with conditions, disapproval, or withdrawal without prejudice.
Appeals of action by the Conservation Commission. A decision of the Conservation Commission shall be final. Further relief of a decision by the Conservation Commission made under this bylaw shall be reviewable in the Superior Court in an action filed within 60 days thereof, in accordance with MGL c. 249, § 4.
Stormwater credit system. The Conservation Commission may adopt, through the regulations authorized by this Stormwater Management Bylaw, a stormwater credit system. This credit system will allow applicants the option, if approved by the Conservation Commission, to take credit for the use of stormwater better site design practices to reduce some of the requirements specified in the criteria section of the regulations. Failure by the Conservation Commission to promulgate such a credit system through its regulations or a legal declaration of its invalidity by a court shall not act to suspend or invalidate the effect of this bylaw.

§ 164-5 Applicability; stormwater management permit.

This bylaw shall apply to all new development and redevelopment, including, but not limited to, site plan applications, subdivision applications, land grading applications, or land use conversion applications. This bylaw shall also apply to other activities that will increase the amount of stormwater runoff or pollutants from a parcel of land, or any activity that will alter the drainage characteristics of a parcel of land, unless exempt pursuant to § 164-5D of this bylaw. All new development and redevelopment under the jurisdiction of this bylaw as prescribed in this bylaw shall be required to obtain a stormwater management permit.
At the discretion of the Conservation Commission, redevelopment projects are presumed to meet the stormwater regulations of the Town of Sterling if the total impervious cover is reduced from existing conditions. Where site conditions prevent the reduction in impervious cover, stormwater management practices shall be implemented for the site's impervious area. This combination of impervious area reduction and stormwater management practices will be used for redevelopment projects to improve existing site conditions.
An alteration, redevelopment, or conversion of land use to a hotspot, such as auto salvage yards, auto fueling facilities, fleet storage yards, commercial parking lots and other land uses with higher potential pollution loads described by Standard 5 of the Massachusetts Stormwater Handbook or the bylaw regulations, shall require a stormwater management permit.
Exemptions. No person shall alter land within the Town of Sterling without having obtained a stormwater management permit (SMP) for the property with the following exceptions:
Any activity that will disturb an area less than 10,000 square feet.
Normal maintenance and improvement of land in agricultural use as defined by the Wetlands Protection Act regulation 310 CMR 10.04 and MGL c. 40A, § 3;
Timber harvesting under an approved forest cutting plan as defined by the Forest Cutting Practices Act regulation 304 CMR 11.00 and MGL c. 132, §§ 40 through 46.
Maintenance of existing landscaping, gardens or lawn areas associated with a single-family or two-family dwelling;
Repair or replacement of an existing roof of a single-family or two-family dwelling;
Construction of a single-family or two-family dwelling, where "approval is not required" (ANR), as defined in the Subdivision Control Act. Persons constructing a single-family or two-family dwelling are encouraged to use the stormwater practices and site planning methods, which will be described in the Town of Sterling Best Development Practices Guidebook;
Repair or replacement of an existing septic system;
The construction of any fence, stone wall or property boundary demarcation that will not alter existing terrain or drainage patterns;
Construction of appurtenances to a single-family or two-family dwelling, including a deck, patio, retaining wall, shed, swimming pool, tennis or basketball court;
Construction of utilities (gas, water, electric, telephone, etc.) other than drainage, which will not alter terrain, ground cover, or drainage patterns;
Emergency repairs to any stormwater management facility or practice that poses a threat to public health or safety, or as deemed necessary by the Conservation Commission;
Any work or projects for which all necessary approvals and permits have been issued before the effective date of this bylaw.

§ 164-6 Procedures.

Permit procedures and requirements shall be defined and included as part of any rules and regulations promulgated as permitted under § 164-4 of this bylaw.

§ 164-7 Enforcement.

The Conservation Commission or an authorized agent of the Conservation Commission shall enforce this bylaw, regulations, orders, violation notices, and enforcement orders, and may pursue all civil and criminal remedies for such violations. Enforcement shall be further defined and included as part of any stormwater regulations promulgated as permitted under § 134-4 of this bylaw.

§ 164-8 Severability.

The invalidity of any section, provision, paragraph, sentence, or clause of this bylaw shall not invalidate any section, provision, paragraph, sentence, or clause thereof, nor shall it invalidate any permit or determination that previously has been issued.