[HISTORY: Adopted by the Conservation Commission of the Town of Ashland 1-24-2011. Amendments noted where applicable.]
These regulations are promulgated by the Ashland Conservation Commission ("Commission") under the authority of the Code of the Town of Ashland, Chapter 280, Wetlands Protection.
The purpose of these regulations is to protect the wetlands, water resources, flood prone areas, and adjoining upland areas in the Town of Ashland by controlling activities deemed by the Commission likely to have a significant or cumulative effect on resource area values, including but not limited to the following: public or private water supply, groundwater supply, flood control, erosion and sedimentation control, storm damage prevention, water quality, prevention and control of pollution, wildlife habitat, rare species habitat including rare plant and animal species, agriculture, and aquaculture, deemed important to the community. The failure of these regulations to address all aspects of the bylaw, or a legal declaration of their invalidity in part or in whole, shall not act to suspend or invalidate the effect of the bylaw.
Bylaw filing fees are payable at the time of application and are not refundable. Fees are calculated by the Commission or its agent according to the schedule below. These fees are in addition to any fee(s) set forth under the Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act and 310 CMR 10.00 and as required by the Application Process set out by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts pursuant thereto.
Notice of Intent (Permit Application). The bylaw filing fee for a permit application shall be calculated using the following schedule. Categories are those used in determining fees under the state Wetlands Protection Act. A full explanation of these categories can be found in the instructions for filing a Notice of Intent from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (BRP WPA Form 3 as amended).
- BUFFER ZONE
- Shall have the same meaning as set forth in § 280-6 which states: "any bordering vegetated wetlands, Vernal Pools, springs, banks, reservoirs, lakes, ponds, beaches, and lands under water bodies; intermittent streams, brooks and creeks; lands adjoining these resource areas out to a distance of 100 feet, known as the Buffer Zone."
Buffer Zone protection.
Preamble. Buffer Zones are likely to be significant to the wetland interests and values identified in § 280-1, the Act and 310 CMR 10.00 et seq.
Presumption of Significance. When a proposed activity involves the removing, filling, dredging, building upon, or altering of a Buffer Zone, the Commission shall presume that protection of the Buffer Zone is significant to the interests in the bylaw and may impose conditions as to how and to what extent the work can be conducted therein. This presumption is rebuttable and may be overcome upon a clear showing that the Buffer Zone does not play a role in the protection of those interests or that the proposed work protects the intent of the bylaw. In the event that the Commission finds that the presumption has been overcome, it shall make a written determination including the Commission's basis therefore and/or impose conditions which protect the interest as set forth in the bylaw.
Performance Standards. The portion of a Buffer Zone extending 25 feet from the wetland, bank, or waterbody defining the Buffer Zone's inner edge, is designated a No Disturb Zone.
No Disturb Zone:
Alterations, including but not limited to grading, landscaping, mowing, removing of vegetation, filling, excavating, operation of vehicles or machinery, and paving, shall not be permitted in a No Disturb Zone.
Structures, including but not limited to porches, decks, pools, and sheds, shall not be constructed or placed within a No Disturb Zone.
Notwithstanding any of the foregoing prohibitions, the Commission may allow disturbances, such as crossings, through a No Disturb Zone by waiver, as provided in § 348-3D of these regulations, when no other practicable alternative exists. Petitions for a waiver shall be included in writing in the Notice of Intent filed under the bylaw. The applicant shall provide information and evidence deemed satisfactory by the Commission that the work to be performed sufficiently protects or enhances wetland interests.
The rest of the Buffer Zone: No activity shall be permitted in the Buffer Zone that has the potential to harm resource areas, including No Disturb Zones, with respect to the interests of the bylaw.
Protection of Vernal Pools.
Preamble. Vernal Pools and their surrounding areas provide important wildlife habitat. They are increasingly rare and are inhabited by many species of wildlife, some of which are totally dependent on Vernal Pools for their survival. The wood frog (Rana sylvatica) and all species of mole salamander (Ambystoma spp.) that occur in Massachusetts breed only in Vernal Pools, and use the surrounding upland habitat for their other habitat needs, such as feeding, shelter, and over-wintering.
Presumption of Significance.
Any confined depression which, at least in most years, holds some water for at least two continuous months during the spring or summer will be presumed to be essential breeding habitat and provide other extremely important habitat functions during the non-breeding season for a variety of wildlife, particularly amphibian species.
This presumption may be overcome by a clear showing that the presumed Vernal Pool does not and cannot meet the defining criteria set forth by the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program (NHESP), in March 2009, for Vernal Pool certification, or the most recent criteria set forth by NHESP.
Because of the seasonal nature of Vernal Pools, the Commission may require that evidence presented to overcome this presumption be gathered during the spring or summer during a year in which the level and duration of water in the pool is at or above average.
As provided by MGL c. 44 § 53G, the Ashland Conservation Commission ("Commission") may impose upon the applicant reasonable fees for the employment of outside consultants, engaged by the Commission, for specific expert services deemed necessary by the Commission to come to a decision on an application submitted to the Commission pursuant to the requirements of the Wetlands Protection Act (MGL c. 131, § 40), the Ashland Wetlands Protection Bylaw (§ 280-1), the Commission Act (MGL c. 40, § 8C), or any other state or municipal statute, bylaw or regulation, as they may be amended or enacted from time to time.
Funds received by the Commission pursuant to these rules shall be deposited with the town treasurer who shall establish a special account for this purpose. Expenditures from this special account may be made at the direction of the Commission without further appropriation as provided in MGL c. 44, § 53G. Expenditures from this account shall be made only in connection with the review of a specific project or projects for which a consultant fee has been collected from the applicant.
Specific consultant services may include but are not limited to:
Purpose. The purpose of this Regulation is to ensure that all actions of the Commission are in accordance with the requirements of the new Open Meeting Law effective July 1, 2010, Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 30A, §§ 18-25, as amended. Under that statute, all "materials" filed with or presented to the Commission become part of the Commission's record. Pursuant to the Open Meeting Law, the Commission hereby adopts this Regulation to handle the burden the new Law imposes with regard to the storage of submitted "materials."
Definitions. The term "Materials" shall include all items in any format including but not limited to hardcopy and electronic formats, regardless of whether they are formally filed with the Commission or simply presented at a public meeting.
In accordance with the Open Meeting Law, copies of all Materials must be submitted to the Commission.
All Materials submitted to the Commission that are larger than 8 1/2 x 11 inches must be accompanied by an 8 1/2 x 11 inch version unbound and in an electronic version that is readable either in Word or Adobe Acrobat.
Enforcement. The Commission shall require that all Materials be properly submitted prior to taking any action on the application before it.