When should I contact the Conservation Commission?

Many landowner activities require some level of review by the ConCom, especially if the activity or work involves ground disturbance, construction, or tree removal in or near a wetland, stream, or pond. Shutesbury has manyForested Wetland wetlands resources throughout town. Wetlands are not always easily recognizable. In addition to visible surface water, wetlands also include areas of wetland vegetation and soils with wetlands characteristics. It is not uncommon for landowners not to realize where lie wetlands boundaries on their properties.

The ConCom reviews building permits and will notify landowners if further permitting is required. A link to permitting applications can be found on our homepage.  The ConCom has the authority to take enforcement actions for unpermitted activities.  To avoid delays in projects, we advise landowners to “check before you dig!”

Landowner Responsibilities:

  1. Know where wetlands exist on your property, including the boundaries/buffer zones of the wetlands.
  2. Seek out ConCom review if a proposed project or activity is to occur either within a wetland area or within the protected buffer zones (100’ from wetlands; 200’ from banks of streams/rivers). 
  3. Apply for all necessary permits from the ConCom or the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP).
  4. Ensure that work activities do not result in contamination to wetlands areas. For information about how to prevent stormwater and sediment runoff, refer to the Erosion Controls Guides on the Resources tab found at the top of the ConCom homepage.

Minor Activities: Some minor activities--such as some landscaping and minor home improvement activities that have a minimal effect on the environment--are exempt from the state Wetlands Protection Act regulations as long as they are in the buffer zone for a wetland or a Riverfront Area. Some exemptions are only allowed under state law if the activity is more than 50' from the wetland boundary, and no exemption applies to activities taking place directly in a wetland resource area. The Shutesbury Wetlands General Wetland Protection Bylaw does not contain the same exemptions, and the use of all exemptions requires a good understanding of the wetlands boundaries on their property. When in doubt, consult with the ConCom. Information about Minor Exempt Activities under the Wetlands Protection Act can be found in the WPA Regulations.  Click here for a brochure about landscaping activities. 

Wetlands Buffer Zones

For large or complex projects, landowners sometimes need guidance from a professional wetland consultant/scientist. The ConCom maintains a list of local consultants, but landowners are free to use whomever they wish.  

Lake Wyola District landowners are advised to click here for a handout about permitting near the lake. 

If you observe a violation on a site with a posted DEP number or in a wetlands resource area: Call the Conservation Commission. If you observe a violation of Town regulations (such as dumping on a roadway), call the Shutesbury police at 413-259-1279.

Additional information about the ConCom's role and when to contact us can be found here

 

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