Wetlands Protection Act

The Wetlands Protection Act and Regulations were adopted in 1972 and have been amended and expanded continually since. The Act requires homeowners and developers doing any activity near a wetland to obtain a wetland permit from the city or town’s Conservation Commission prior to commencement of the project. 
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Any project within 100 feet of a wetland or 200 feet of a perennial stream or river requires Conservation Commission review/permitting. All projects within the 100-year floodplain and endangered species habitat also require a permit. There are some exemptions for minor projects that could be determined by the Conservation Commission or the Conservation Agent. Do not assume the project is exempt. An exemption under one law does not necessarily mean that it qualifies for an exemption under the Wetlands Protection Act. Ask first to avoid costly delays. 
Examples of work or activities that require a review/permit are, including but not limited to:
  • Construction
  • Land clearing
  • Buildings
  • Additions and Garages
  • Parking lots, roads and subdivisions
  • Cutting and clearing vegetation
  • Installing a lawn
  • Retaining walls
  • Wells (irrigation, point, drinking water)
  • Septic systems
  • Pool, deck or shed
The eight interests that can be considered by the Commission under the Wetlands Protection Act (WPA) are: 
  1. Protection of water supplies;
  2. Protection of groundwater supply; 
  3. Flood control;
  4. Storm damage control;
  5. Prevention of pollution;
  6. Protection of land containing shellfish;
  7. Protection of fisheries and;
  8. Protection of wildlife habitat.
The Commission’s jurisdiction is limited to wetland issues pertinent to the site listed on the permit application only and discusses and votes on each permit based only upon the above-listed parameters.
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