APPLICATIONS PROCEDURES

Wetlands Protection

 

Summary of Application Procedures:

The Belchertown Conservation Commission welcomes your interest in preserving the town's wetland and water resources.  The filing procedures for the state Wetlands Protection Act and the local Wetlands Bylaw are explained below. Further information, forms and assistance are available from the Conservation Commission office or may be obtained on-line at www.Belchertown.org. 

Request for a Determination of Applicability:  This is the simplest application, which requests the Commission to determine if an area, and/or proposed work is subject to the jurisdiction of the Conservation Commission. 

When to use:

       1.  To determine if an area is under jurisdiction of State or local wetlands regulations

       2.  To confirm Wetland Resource Area boundaries on a particular lot

3.  For proposed work in the 100 ft. Buffer Zone of a Wetland Resource Area, which meets allof the  

     following criteria:

               -  No alteration of a Wetland Resource Area is proposed

               -  Less than 2,500 sq. ft. of alteration in the Buffer Zone

               -  No work will occur within 50 ft. of a Wetland Resource Area

               -  Slope within the Buffer Zone must be no steeper than 15%

-  Leach field of a new proposed septic system is located at least 100 ft. from any Wetland

                   Resource Area       

No application fee is required for a Request for a Determination, provided the application pertains to a single-family lot. For commercial properties or filings for lots other than 1 single-family lot, the application fee is $50.00The applicant is required to pay for the legal ad, which shall be published in the Belchertown Sentinel Newspaper or other local paper. If the proposed work does not meet the above criteria, a Notice of Intent form must be filed.

Submittal requirements for a Request for Determination:

The applicant must complete and submit an additional one-page document entitled: Combination of Filing Form and all information on the Request for Determination form –WPA Form 1. Submission requirements for the submittal of a Request for Determination are to include, but not limited to: 

1.       An accurate plan of the lot (site plan), depicting all structures and the approximate distance to Resource Areas.

2.       Description of the location (locus plan)

3.       Boundaries of the proposed work, water bodies, or other Resource Areas to be protected.

4.       A plan or description (narrative) of permanent stabilization of the land is required.

5.       Assessors Map referencing: Map, Section, Parcel, Lot #. 

The original and 1 copy of the preceding forms, plans, and information in its entirety, must be submitted to the Conservation Commission office. In addition, the applicant is required to send a copy to the landowner, if the applicant is not the owner and one copy to the Dept. of Environmental Protection; Western Regional Office, State House West, 4th Floor, 436 Dwight Street, Springfield, MA 01103. 

After submittal of the application, the legal notice will be published in the newspaper, and the item will be placed on the next available Conservation Commission meeting agenda. A member of the Conservation Commission will conduct a site visit prior to the meeting and a decision will be made at the scheduled public meeting. A permit will be issued in writing to the applicant on a Determination of Applicability form. The Determination may include conditions and it will state whether an additional permit is required from the Conservation Commission, in order to protect the Wetland Resource Areas and comply with the regulations. 

Notice of Intent: This is the wetlands permit application under the State and local regulations.  

When to use

       1.     Appropriate for construction or other work proposed within wetland resource areas,

               including the Riverfront Area (which extends 200 ft. on each side of Rivers and Perennial

               Streams)

       2.     For proposed work in the Buffer Zone which does not meet the criteria for a Request for a

               Determination. Detailed information about the project and the site is required, as listed below and check the Belchertown Wetland Regulations, Section BWR 10:00. A filing fee is required which is divided between the State and the Town. The applicant also pays for a published legal notice, which shall be provided in the Belchertown Sentinel Newspaper or other local paper. Submittal requirements for Notice of Intent: The original and 2 copies of all of the preceding information are required to be submitted to the Conservation Commission office and one copy of the preceding information must be sent to:  Department of Environmental Protection, Western Regional Office, State House West, 4th Floor, 436 Dwight Street, Springfield, MA 01103. The applicant shall at the same time give written abutter notification by hand delivery or certified mail to all abutters within 100 ft. of the property line from the land where the activity is proposed. Submission requirement for the submittal of a Notice of Intent are to include, but not limited to: 

         Completed Combination of Filing Form (Form A)

         Completed Notice of Intent and/or BRP WPA Form 3

         Locus Map, USGS Map with site location clearly marked

         Abutters List and Proof of Notification

         Affidavit of Service

         Wetland Fee Transmittal form

         Town Assessors Map identifying specific Map & Lot #(s)

         Site Plan (scale: not more than 1" = 50 ft., include wetland boundaries, pre- and post-

                   grades, all work in Resource Areas and Buffer Zone, work limits, etc.)

         Erosion Control details

         Alternatives Analysis- for any/all work proposed within the 50ft. buffer zone area.

(See "Scope of Alternatives Analysis" to be considered under BWR 10:00)

         If work proposed includes the building of 5 or more houses, then a Stormwater Report/Checklist must be submitted with the filing. 

* See section of BWR 10:05 –Submission Requirement for additional filing information.

 

 

Scope Of Alternatives to be considered under BWR 10:00 

The goal of evaluating project alternatives is to identify any options for locating a project so it has the least impact or potential impact to the Bordering Wetland and it's associated buffer zone. The Commission is requiring all NOI applications to submit an Alternative Analysis as required in the Belchertown Wetland Regulations, BWR 10:00 issued on May 23, 2006. The intent of the Alternative Analysis is to assist the Commission in their review of your proposed project and to determine what if any work may be allowed within the 50 ft. buffer zone. It is to the applicants benefit to be concise and specific as to why this work should be allowed and what efforts were made to keep all work out of the 50 ft. buffer zone and/or to minimize, avoid, mitigate proposed or potential impacts. 

Vegetated Buffer Strip: Development proposed in the buffer zone can negatively impact the abutting Resource Areas(s). Negative impacts, both from the "construction" and "use" phase of the project can include erosion, siltation, loss of pollution attenuation, loss of groundwater recharge, reduced water quality and loss of wildlife habitat. A minimum 25ft. strip of continuous, undisturbed, indigenous vegetative cover, (no disturb area), along the Resource Area boundary within the 100 ft. buffer zone shall be maintained, in order to protect the adjacent Wetland Resource Areas, and provide wildlife habitat. All footing drains and drainage outlets must stay out of the 25ft. no-disturb area. In addition, the Conservation Commission requires all applicants to submit an alternative analysis, demonstrating need and justification for any work proposed within the 50ft. buffer zone. The applicant shall prove by a preponderance of the evidence that there are no practicable and substantially equivalent economic alternatives to the proposed project with less adverse effects on any Wetland Resource Areas. A practicable alternative means a measure that is available and capable of being done after taking into consideration cost, existing technology, and logistics in light of overall project purposes. A larger buffer may be required in sensitive areas, such as but not limited to, steep slopes, critical areas and highly erodable soils. 

The following are possible examples and information to include in the narrative of alternatives analysis, which include but may not be limited to:

  1. Re-design considerations and re-locate all construction and lawn out of the 50 ft. buffer zone, including but not limited to building construction downsizing, placement of buildings on lot, relocation of work
  2. How this project complies and protects Belchertown's Wetland Bylaw Values as stated in BWR 10:01 and show all proposed work in the buffer zone
  3. Date the lot was recorded, prior to May 23, 2006 (date of Regulations)
  4. Describe how this project will have no adverse impacts to the Resource Area
  5. Proof of requesting a variance from other Town Boards, ex. Planning Board, Board of Health  

If proposed disturbance is permitted by the Belchertown Conservation Commission within the 50ft. buffer Zone, then the following conditions may/may not, (but not limited to), be required:

1.                Permanent Deed Restriction limiting the potential amount of work in the Buffer Zone

2.                Habitat enhancement and improvements            

3.                Permanent markers at the limit of work area

4.                Mitigation or improvement on existing lot (possible clean-up of site or other improvements) 

After submittal of an application, a legal notice is required to be published in the newspaper, at the applicant's expense. Member(s) of the Commission will perform a site inspection and a public hearing will be scheduled to consider the information submitted. After the Commission makes a decision on the Notice of Intent, an Order of Conditions becomes the permit and includes conditions. Compliance with these conditions is required; otherwise the Commission may take enforcement action. Following completion of the work permitted by the order of Conditions, the applicant is required to obtain a Certificate of Compliance. 

Abbreviated Notice of Intent: This application is available for projects, which are likely to result in only limited impacts on resource areas.  This form may be used only when the work proposed, is in the Buffer Zone and/or the 100 yr. floodplain, the proposed work will alter less than 2,500 sq. ft. of surface area within the Buffer Zone or Floodplain, and it does not require an Army Corps of Engineers or Waterways permit.  Submittal requirements are the same as for a Notice of Intent. 

After submittal of an application, a legal notice is required to be published in the newspaper, at the applicant's expense. Member(s) of the Commission will perform a site inspection and a public hearing will be scheduled to consider the information submitted.  After the Commission makes a decision on the Notice of Intent, an Order of Conditions will be issued and mailed to the applicant via certified mail. If the proposal is approved, the Order of Conditions becomes the permit and usually includes numerous conditions. Compliance with these conditions is required; otherwise the Commission may take enforcement action.  Following completion of the work permitted by the Order of Conditions, the applicant is required to obtain a Certificate of Compliance.    

Request for Certificate of Compliance: (Partial COC/ COC): This application is required once the project has been completed and will release the Order of Conditions as recorded at the Registry of Deeds. The applicant is required to fill out WPA FORM 8A - Request for Certificate of Compliance or Partial Certificate of Compliance depending the amount of work that has been completed. This application is to be submitted to the Conservation Commission for review. Once received, the request will be placed on an agenda and member(s) of the Commission will conduct a site inspection to review the work prior to the meeting. A determination will then be made at the Commission meeting and if permitted, the applicant will receive either a Partial Certificate of Compliance or a Certificate of Compliance via mail. Any outstanding issues pertaining to the approved Order of Conditions should be taken care of prior to this request; some of which may include but are not limited to:      

1.         The installation of permanent markers. These markers can be iron pins, trees, boulders, etc. and must be placed in accordance with the Order of Conditions governing the project.

2.         An "As-Built Plan": depicting the house location, the permanent markers and the identified Wetland boundaries, limit of work. 

Abbreviated Notice of Resource Area Delineation, ANRAD: This application is required for the applicant to confirm the delineation of a Resource Areas or for a simplified review for projects located in the Buffer Zone. This application entitled WPA FORM 4A- Abbreviated Notice of Resource Area Delineation is to be submitted to Conservation Commission for review. Once received, a legal notification will be published in the local newspaper at the applicant's expense, and the request will be placed on a meeting agenda. Member(s) of the Commission will conduct a site visit to review the delineation, prior to the meeting. A determination will then be made at the Commission meeting and if permitted, the applicant will receive a permit entitled an Order of Resource Area Delineation or ORAD via certified mail. 

Minimal Submittal Requirements:

1.       Project location

2.       Town Assessors Map & Lot #

3.       Locus Map/Topographical Map with proper boundaries clearly identified

4.       Site Map: including delineation of boundaries governed by The Massachusetts Regulations (310 CMR 10:55 (2) (c)), of proposed work, name and contact information of site map preparer.

5.       Length of Bordering Vegetated boundary (BVW)

6.       Method of Determination

7.       Identification of other Resource Areas if applicable

8.       Resource Area Delineation Plans

9.       Plans identifying: size, scale, and detailed description of the site 

The original and one copy of the preceding forms, plans, and information must be submitted to the Conservation Commission office. In addition, the applicant is required to send one copy to the Department of Environmental Protection, Western Regional Office, State House West, 4th Floor, 436 Dwight Street, Springfield, MA 01103, and a copy to the landowner if the applicant is not the owner. 

Enforcement 

In addition to the permit process, the Conservation Commission can issue Enforcement Orders at any time for work conducted without a permit or in violation of an Order of Conditions. Such an order generally requires the owner or contractor to stop work, correct existing violations and restore the area.  Failure to comply with Enforcement Orders can result in further legal action and/or fines. 

If you observe an activity of concern, would like information about the wetlands permit, or suspect a violation in progress, please contact the Conservation Commission Office 413-323-0405 and/or email Conservation Administrator, LeeAnne Connolly at lconnolly@belchertown.org. Anyone, including concerned residents, can submit a Request for Determination of Applicability to obtain a legal decision as to whether a specific area is under jurisdiction of the sta[ToB1]te or local wetlands regulations. It is not necessary to have the property owner's consent. If someone has submitted an application to the Conservation Commission, a legal notice will be published in a local newspaper with the time and date of the public hearing or meeting.  You are welcome to attend a public meeting and a specific public hearing to learn more about a project and to express your concerns to the Commission. 

What is the Conservation Commission? 

The Belchertown Conservation Commission is comprised of seven volunteer residents of Belchertown who are responsible for administering the Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act and the local Wetlands Protection Bylaw and fostering other conservation activities throughout the Town. The Commission has a full-time Conservation Administrator. The Commission office hours are posted in Town Hall. If you have questions or need assistance please contact a member of the Conservation Commission or LeeAnne Connolly, Conservation Administrator, at 323-0405 or at lconnolly@belchertown.org. 

Commission Members:

David Haines, Chairman

Linda Leduc, Vice-Chairman

Joseph Babineau

Jon Clements        

Edward Knight

John Henry

Michael Cavatorta

Associate Members:

Polly Prunuske

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