[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Meeting of the Town of Norwell as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Regulations adopted by Conservation Commission — See Ch. 303.
[Adopted 5-13-2002 ATM, Art. 20 (formerly designated Art. XVI-a)]
This article is adopted under authority of Section 6, Article 89 of the Amendments to the Massachusetts Constitution, known as the Home Rule Amendment, and MGL c. 40, § 21. The purpose of this bylaw is to protect the floodplains, wetlands and related water resources, riverfront areas and adjoining land areas of the Town of Norwell by controlling any activities in or near wetlands and riverfront areas deemed to have a significant effect upon wetland values, including, but not limited to, the following: public or private water supply, groundwater and groundwater quality, flood control, sedimentation and erosion control, storm damage prevention, water pollution prevention, wildlife and wildlife habitats, recreation, aesthetics, fisheries, fish and shellfish habitats, rare plant and animal species, and riverfront areas.
Unless otherwise set forth in a regulation hereinafter adopted by the Conservation Commission, the terms set forth herein shall have the following meanings. The term "applicant," as used in the bylaw, shall mean the person giving notice of intention to remove, fill, dredge, or alter wetlands or to perform any regulated activity within the area of jurisdiction defined by the bylaw. The term "person," as used in this bylaw, shall include any individual, group of individuals, association, partnership, corporation, company, business organization, trust, estate, the Commonwealth, or any political subdivision of the Commonwealth, administrative agency, public or quasi-public corporation or body, or any other legal entity or its legal representative, agents, or assigns.
Except as permitted by the Norwell Conservation Commission ("Conservation Commission") or as otherwise provided in this bylaw, no person shall remove, fill, dredge, alter or build upon or within 100 feet of any bank, freshwater wetland, including, without limitation, isolated vegetated wetlands, flat, marsh, meadow, bog, swamp, creek, river, stream, pond or lake, any land under said waters, any land subject to flooding or inundation by groundwater, surface water or tidal action other than in the course of maintaining, repairing or replacing, but not substantially changing or enlarging, an existing and lawfully located structure or facility used in the service of the public and used to provide electric, gas, water, sanitary sewer, storm drainage, public roadway, telephone, telegraph, and other telecommunication services, without filing written notice of this intention to so remove, fill, dredge, alter or build upon or within 100 feet of said wetland resources and without receiving and complying with an order of conditions and provided all appeal periods have elapsed. Such notice shall be sent by certified mail to the Norwell Conservation Commission, including such plans as may be necessary to describe such proposed activity and its effect on the environment.
Except as authorized by the Norwell Conservation Commission, no activity or alteration shall be permitted within a fifty-foot buffer strip ("buffer strip") between any wetland resource area, bordering vegetated wetland, and/or isolated vegetated wetland and any proposed site disturbance.
Prohibited activities shall include, but are not limited to, the following:
New construction of any buildings, sheds, and/or driveways of any nature and type (excepting water-dependent structures expressly approved by the Commission);
Alteration, reconstruction or relocation of existing buildings, sheds and/or driveways of any nature or type; and
Activities which involve or result in the removal, filling or altering of land within the buffer strip.
Nothing herein shall preclude the maintenance of an existing structure located within the buffer strip.
The Conservation Commission may allow the prohibited activities upon an express determination that the applicant has made a clear and convincing showing that the proposed work in the buffer strip and its natural and consequential impacts and effects will not adversely affect the wetland values of this bylaw.
[Amended 5-6-2019 ATM, Art. 28]
Any person desiring to know whether or not a proposed activity or an area is subject to this bylaw may request a determination from the Conservation Commission in writing. The Conservation Commission shall issue its determination, in writing, within 21 days from the receipt of such request. The Commission, its agent, officers and employees, may enter upon the land upon which the proposed work is to be done in response to a request for a prior determination or for the purpose of carrying out its duties under this bylaw and may make or cause to be made such examination or survey as deemed necessary.
[Amended 5-3-2016 ATM, Art. 27]
The same notice of intent, plans and specifications required to be filed by an applicant under MGL c. 131, § 40, (with the addition that Cornell Rainfall Data must be utilized to design and evaluate any and all stormwater systems or components) will be accepted as fulfilling the filing requirements of the bylaw. Within 21 days after receiving a notice of intent, the Conservation Commission shall hold a public hearing on the proposed activity. Notice of the date, time and place of said hearing shall be given by the Commission at the expense of the applicant not less than five days prior to such hearing by publication in a newspaper of general circulation in the Town and by mailing a notice to the applicant by mail. The applicant may be present at said hearing and may be represented by counsel and shall be entitled to present evidence, call witnesses, and question any witnesses appearing at the hearing. The Commission shall make and keep a record of its proceedings and, upon request, shall furnish copies at reasonable cost. Said hearing shall be conducted simultaneously with the public hearing required to be held under the provisions of said MGL c. 131, § 40, and in conformity with said regulations promulgated by the Department of Environmental Protection.
The Conservation Commission is empowered to deny permission for any removal, dredging, filling, or altering of subject lands within the Town if, in its judgment, such denial is necessary for the protection of public or private water supply, groundwater, flood control, storm damage prevention, and the prevention of pollution or any of the wetland values protected hereunder. Due consideration shall be given to possible effects of the proposal on all values to be protected under this bylaw.
The Conservation Commission may, as an alternative to a denial, impose such conditions as it deems necessary to contribute to the protection and preservation of the subject lands in accordance with the purpose of this bylaw. An order of conditions issued under this bylaw may be identical to such an order issued by the Norwell Conservation Commission under the provisions of MGL c. 131, § 40.
[Amended 5-6-2019 ATM, Art. 28]
The notice required by § 61-3 of this bylaw shall not apply to emergency projects necessary for the protection of the health and safety of the citizens of Norwell and to be performed, or ordered to be performed, by an administrative agency of the Commonwealth or by the Town. Emergency projects shall mean any projects certified to be an emergency by the Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection and Conservation Commission if this bylaw and MGL c. 131, § 40, as amended, are both applicable or by the Conservation Commission if only the bylaw is applicable. In no case shall any removal, filling, dredging or altering authorized by such certification extend beyond the time necessary to abate the emergency. The provisions of this bylaw shall not apply to any mosquito control work done under the provisions of MGL c. 40, § 5, or MGL c. 252 or to work performed for normal maintenance or improvement of lands in agricultural use as of the effective date of this bylaw.
The Conservation Commission is authorized to establish filing fees to defray costs incurred in conducting hearings under the Wetlands Protection Bylaw and to adopt rules and regulations regarding the establishment and collection of such fees. Such rules and regulations may be adopted or amended at any regularly scheduled meeting of the Conservation Commission subject to the approval of the Board of Selectmen. Upon such approval they shall be published once in a newspaper of general circulation in the Town, shall thereafter be posted for seven consecutive days in five conspicuous places, and shall become effective upon the expiration of said seven days.
[Amended 5-6-2019 ATM, Art. 28]
In addition to the fees authorized by § 61-9, notices of intent filed for business, commercial, industrial and/or subdivision projects shall reimburse the Town for certain costs incurred by the Town in processing the application, inclusive of consulting and expert fees incurred in reviewing any such proposals. The applicant shall, with submission of a notice of intent, deposit with the Treasurer-Collector of the Town funds equal to 1% of the estimated cost of the project or $500, whichever is greater. For business, commercial and industrial filings "estimated cost" shall mean the estimated cost of the entire project, including building construction. For subdivisions "estimated cost" shall mean the estimated cost of land preparation, grading, placement of utilities, and construction of roads and drainage systems. The Conservation Commission shall direct the Treasurer-Collector to expend such funds to pay for all reasonable design review by its consulting engineer, or by other professional persons required to assist the Conservation Commission to determine the adequacy of the submitted plan(s) with regard to MGL c. 131, § 40, and this bylaw. However, no such payment shall be directed until 14 days after a photocopy of the bill purporting to represent charges for such services and review has been sent, by first-class mail, to the applicant. If the applicant disputes the amount, the bill shall be reconsidered by the Conservation Commission, and the Commission's decision will prevail. The balance of this account shall at no time be less than 1/2 the initial deposit; upon notice from the Commission by first-class mail, the applicant shall deposit with the Treasurer-Collector such additional funds as are required to restore the account to the amount of the initial deposit. Within 21 days of issuance of a certificate of compliance, all remaining funds shall be returned to the applicant. The Conservation Commission may require similar deposits for filings by persons other than businesses if the submitted plan(s) require(s) design review by its consulting engineer or other professional persons. If a deposit is required for a request for determination of applicability, all remaining funds shall be returned to the applicant within 21 days of issuance of a certificate of occupancy by the Building Inspector/Zoning Enforcement Officer.
The Commission, its agents, officers and employees shall have the authority to enter upon privately owned land pursuant to warrant, court procedure, or other appropriate administrative order for the purpose of performing their duties under the bylaw and may make or cause to be made such examinations, surveys or sampling as the Commission deems necessary.
[Amended 5-6-2019 ATM, Art. 28]
The Commission shall have the authority to enforce this bylaw, its regulations, and permits issued thereunder by violation notices, administrative orders, and civil and criminal court actions. Upon request of the Commission to the Board of Selectmen, the Town Counsel may take legal action for enforcement under civil law. Upon request of the Commission, the Chief of Police may take legal action for enforcement under criminal law. Any person who violates any provision of this bylaw, regulations or permits issued thereunder, may be punished by a fine issued by the Conservation Commission. Each day or portion thereof during which a violation continues shall constitute a separate offense, and each provision of the bylaw, regulations or permit violated shall constitute a separate offense. In addition to the procedure of enforcement as described above, the provision of this bylaw may also be enforced by the Commission or its agent, by noncriminal complaint pursuant to the provisions of MGL c. 40, § 21D. The penalty for violation of any provision of this bylaw shall be $100 for the first offense; $200 for the second offense; $300 for the third offense and each subsequent offense.
The Conservation Commission may require the posting of a bond with or without surety, running to the municipality, and sufficient as to form and surety in the opinion of the Commission's Counsel to secure faithful and satisfactory performance of work required by any order of conditions, in such sum and upon such conditions as the Conservation Commission may require. Other evidence of financial responsibility which is satisfactory to the Conservation Commission may be accepted in lieu of bonding. Notwithstanding the above, the amount of such bond shall not exceed the estimated cost of the work required or the restoration of affected lands and properties if the work is not performed as required, whichever is greater. Forfeiture of any such bond or other security shall be recoverable in an action in any court of competent jurisdiction. Such bond or other security shall be released upon issuance of a certificate of compliance.
The Commission may also consider a conservation restriction, easement, or other covenant enforceable in a court of law as a way to secure adherence to conditions imposed by the Commission. Such covenant shall be executed and duly recorded by the owner of record, running with the land to the benefit of this municipality whereby the permit conditions shall be performed and observed before any lot may be conveyed other than by mortgage deed. This method shall be used only with the consent of the applicant.
The Norwell Conservation Commission may, from time to time, adopt such other and further definitions, regulations, fees and performance standards as it may deem necessary to protect the interest and/or intent of this bylaw. Said definitions, regulations, fees and performance standards shall become effective upon publication following a public hearing.
The invalidity of any section or provision of the bylaw shall not invalidate any other section or provision thereof.