[HISTORY: Adopted by the Municipal Council of the City of Taunton 5-8-2001 (§§ 16-30 to 16-38 of the 2010 Code). Amendments noted where applicable.]
The purpose of this chapter is to protect the wetlands, water resources, and adjoining land areas in the City of Taunton (the "City") by controlling activities deemed by the Taunton Conservation Commission (TCC) likely to have a significant or cumulative effect upon resource area values, including but not limited to the following: public or private water supply, groundwater, flood control, erosion and sedimentation control, storm damage prevention, including coastal storm flowage, water quality, water pollution control, fisheries, shellfish, wildlife habitat, rare species habitat, including rare plant species, agriculture, aquaculture, and recreation values, deemed important to the community (collectively, the "resource area values protected by this chapter"). This chapter is intended to utilize the home rule authority of this municipality to protect additional resource areas, for additional values, with additional standards and procedures stricter than those of the Wetlands Protection Act (MGL c. 131, § 40) and regulations thereunder (310 CMR 10.00) (the "Act"). The Taunton Conservation Commission is empowered to protect the wetlands including specific interests following and to enforce and remediate damages to said wetlands.
The City of Taunton's location within the Taunton River watershed requires this chapter to protect four specific concerns.
These concerns, as they relate to the eight interests listed in the Act, are as follows:
In keeping with protection of public, private and groundwater supplies, the TCC shall have concern with jurisdictional resources that are in aquifer protection zones, as listed in Chapter 440, Zoning.
In keeping with flood control and storm damage prevention, the TCC shall have concern with jurisdictional resources that are in floodplain districts, including those listed in Chapter 440, Zoning.
In keeping with prevention of pollution, the TCC shall have concern with both point and nonpoint discharges, including all conservation structures connected to jurisdictional resources.
In keeping with protection of land containing shellfish, fisheries, and wildlife habitat, the TCC shall have concern with jurisdictional resources found to contain commercially important shellfish, anadromous/catadramous fish runs, and vernal pool species.
The TCC's concern with the above shall be defined as minimizing impact on said resources.
Except as permitted by the Conservation Commission pursuant to the Act or as provided in this chapter, no person shall commence to remove, fill, dredge, build upon, degrade, discharge into, or otherwise alter the following protectable resource areas: any freshwater marshes; wet meadows; bogs; swamps; vernal pools; banks; reservoirs; lakes; ponds of any size; rivers; streams; creeks; beaches; dunes; estuaries; lands under water bodies; lands subject to flooding or inundation by groundwater or surface water; lands subject to tidal action, coastal storm flowage, or flooding; and lands abutting any of the aforesaid resource areas as set out in this section (collectively the "resource areas protected by this chapter"). Said resource areas and their applicable buffer zones under the Act, if any, shall be protected whether or not they border surface waters.
The application and permit required by this chapter shall not be required for emergency projects necessary for the protection of the health and safety of the public, provided that the work is to be performed by or has been ordered to be performed by an agency of the commonwealth or a political subdivision thereof; provided that advance notice, oral or written, has been given to the Commission prior to commencement of work; provided that the Commission or its agent certifies the work as an emergency project; provided that the work is performed only for the time and place certified by the Commission for the limited purposes necessary to abate the emergency; and provided that within 21 days of commencement of an emergency project a notice of intent (NOI) application shall be filed with the Commission for review as provided by this chapter. Upon failure to meet these and other requirements of the Commission, the Commission may, after notice and a public hearing, revoke or modify an emergency project approval and order restoration and mitigation measures.
Other than stated in this section, the exceptions provided in the Act shall not apply under this chapter.
After public notice and public hearing, the Commission shall promulgate rules and regulations to effectuate the purposes of this chapter effective when voted and filed with the City Clerk. Failure by the Commission to promulgate such rules and regulations or a legal declaration of their invalidity by a court of law shall not act to suspect or invalidate the effect of this chapter.
At a minimum these regulations shall define key terms in this chapter not inconsistent with this chapter and procedures governing the amount and filing of fees, costs and fines.
No person shall alter jurisdictional areas protected by this chapter, or cause, suffer, or allow such activity, or leave in place unauthorized fill, or otherwise fail to restore illegally altered land to its original condition, or fail to comply with a permit or an enforcement order issued pursuant to this chapter.
The Commission, its agents and the Director of the Planning and Conservation Department shall have authority to enter upon any privately owned land for the purpose of performing their duties under this chapter and may make or cause to be made such examinations, surveys, or sampling as the Commission deems necessary, subject to the Constitutions and laws of the United States and the commonwealth.
The Commission shall have authority to enforce this chapter, its regulations, and permits issued thereunder by violation notices, enforcement orders in accordance with MGL c. 131, § 40, fines in accordance with MGL c. 40, § 21D, as accepted by the City of Taunton, and civil and criminal court actions. Any person who violates provisions of this chapter and/or regulations may be ordered to restore the property to its original condition and take such other action deemed necessary to remedy such violations.
Upon request of the Commission, the Mayor and City Solicitor shall take legal action for enforcement under civil law. Upon request of the Commission, the Chief of Police shall take legal action for enforcement under criminal law.
The applicant for a permit shall have the burden of proving by a preponderance of the credible evidence that the work proposed in the permit application will not have unacceptable significant or cumulative effect upon the resource area values protected by this chapter. Failure to provide adequate evidence to the Commission supporting this burden shall be sufficient cause for the Commission to deny a permit or grant a permit with conditions.
A decision of the Commission shall be reviewable in the Superior Court in accordance with MGL c. 249, § 4.
This chapter is adopted under the Home Rule Amendment of the Massachusetts Constitution and the home rule statutes, independent of the Act thereunder.