Town of Cohasset, MA
Norfolk County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Meeting of the Town of Cohasset 8-30-1989 (Art. XIV of the 1988 General Bylaws). Amendments noted where applicable.]
The purpose of this chapter is to protect the wetlands, related water resources, and adjoining land areas in the Town of Cohasset by controlling activities deemed by the Cohasset Conservation Commission likely to have a significant or cumulative effect upon wetland values, including but not limited to the following: public or private water supply, groundwater, flood control, erosion and sedimentation control, storm damage prevention, water pollution control, fisheries, wildlife habitat, recreation, aesthetics and agriculture values (collectively, the "wetland values" protected by this chapter).
A. 
Except as permitted by the Cohasset Conservation Commission or as provided in this chapter, no person shall remove, fill, dredge, build upon, or alter the following resource area:
(1) 
Within 100 feet of any freshwater wetland, marsh, wet meadow, bog or swamp;
(2) 
Within 100 feet of any bank, lake, river, pond, stream or estuary;
(3) 
Any land under any lake, river, pond, stream or estuary;
(4) 
Within 100 feet of any land subject to flooding or inundation by groundwater, surface water or tidal action;
(5) 
Within 25 feet of any isolated land subject to flooding and any isolated vegetated wetland;
[Amended 7-17-2000]
(6) 
Within 100 feet of a vernal pool.
[Amended 7-17-2000; 6-28-2005]
B. 
Except as permitted by the Cohasset Conservation Commission or as provided in this chapter, any solid waste landfill shall ensure that leachate does not discharge into the watershed of any public drinking water supply, and shall have stormwater controls that reasonably prevent erosion, prevent discharge of pollutants into said watershed, protect the physical integrity of the landfill, and ensure that siltation due to erosion shall not migrate off site into said watershed.
[Amended 3-16-2000]
A. 
The permit and application required by this chapter shall not be required for maintaining, repairing or replacing an existing and lawfully located structure or facility used in the service of the public to provide electric, gas, water, telephone, telegraph or other telecommunication services, provided that:
(1) 
The structure or facility is not substantially changed or enlarged;
(2) 
Written notice has been given to the Conservation Commission prior to commencement of work;
[Amended 4-30-2018 ATM by Art. 18]
(3) 
The work conforms to performance standards and design specifications in regulations adopted by the Commission.
B. 
The permit and application required by this chapter shall not apply to emergency projects necessary for the protection of the health or safety of the public, provided that:
(1) 
The work is to be performed by or has been ordered to be performed by an agency of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts or a political subdivision thereof;
(2) 
Advance notice, oral or written, has been given to the Commission or its agent prior to commencement of work or within 24 hours after commencement;
(3) 
The Commission or its agent certifies the work as an emergency project;
(4) 
The work is performed only for the time and place so certified for the limited purposes necessary to abate the emergency;
(5) 
Within 21 days of commencement of an emergency project a permit application should be filed with the Conservation Commission for review as provided in this chapter. Upon failure to meet these requirements and any other requirements imposed by the Commission pursuant to this chapter the Commission may, after notice and a public hearing, revoke or modify an emergency project certification and order restoration and mitigation measures.
C. 
Other than as stated in this section, any exceptions provided in MGL c. 131, § 40 (the Wetlands Protection Act), shall not apply under this chapter.
A. 
Written application shall be filed with the Conservation Commission to perform regulated activities as deemed in § 260-2. The application shall include such information and plans as are deemed necessary by the Commission to describe proposed activities and their effects on the environment. No activities shall commence without receiving and complying with a permit issued pursuant to this chapter.
B. 
In its discretion, the Commission may accept the notice of intent and plans filed under the Wetlands Protection Act as the application and plans under this chapter. Any person desiring to know whether or not a proposed activity or an area is subject to this chapter may request a determination from the Commission in writing. Such a request for determination shall contain data and plans specified by the regulations of the Commission.
C. 
At the time of an application or request, the applicant shall pay a filing fee specified in the regulations of the Commission, the fee to be in addition to any fee required by the Wetlands Protection Act. The Commission may establish filing fees in amounts reasonably designed to recover the cost to the Town of professional services for design review, site inspection, testing, engineering, or other related consultant services. The Commission may waive the filing fee for an application or request filed by a government agency and shall waive all fees, costs and expenses for a request for determination filed by a person who is neither the owner nor a person acting on behalf of the owner.
A. 
The Commission shall conduct a public hearing on any application or request for determination, with written notice given, at the expense of the applicant, in a newspaper of general circulation in the Town at least five working days prior to the hearing.
[Amended 6-10-1994]
B. 
An applicant in any manner requiring a public hearing shall also give written notice of the hearing to all abutters, as that term may be defined by the Commission, also at least five working days prior to the hearing. Such notice shall be given in the form and manner that the Commission shall prescribe.
C. 
The Commission shall commence the public hearing within 21 days from the receipt of a complete application or request for determination and shall issue its permit, denial or determination in writing within 21 days of the close of said public hearing. In its discretion the Commission may combine its hearing under this chapter with a hearing conducted under the Wetlands Protection Act.
D. 
The Commission shall have the authority to continue any hearing to a date certain announced at the hearing, for reasons stated at the hearing, which may include receipt of additional information offered by the applicant or others, information and plans required of the applicant deemed necessary by the Commission in its discretion, or comments and recommendations of other Town boards and officials. If the applicant objects to a continuance or postponement, the hearing shall be closed and the Commission shall take action on the information then available to it.
A. 
If, after a public hearing, the Conservation Commission determines that the activities which are the subject of the application are not likely to have a significant or cumulative effect upon the wetland values protected by this chapter, the Commission shall, within 21 days of the close of the hearing, issue a permit for the activities requested. Such permit shall be without conditions. If, after a public hearing, the Conservation Commission determines that the activities which are the subject of the application are likely to have a significant or cumulative effect upon any or all of the wetland values protected by this chapter, the Commission shall, within 21 days of the close of the hearing:
(1) 
Issue a permit for the activities requested, in which case the Commission shall impose conditions which it deems necessary or desirable to protect those values, and all activities shall be done in accordance with those conditions; or
(2) 
Deny a permit. The Commission may deny a permit for the following reasons:
(a) 
Failure to meet the requirements of this chapter;
(b) 
Failure to submit necessary information and/or plans requested by the Commission;
(c) 
Failure to meet the design specifications, performance standards and other requirements in regulations of the Commission;
(d) 
Failure to avoid or prevent unacceptable significant or cumulative effects upon any or all of the wetland values protected by this chapter.
B. 
A permit shall expire three years from the date of issue. Any permit may be renewed once for an additional period, up to three years, provided that a written request for renewal is received by the Commission prior to expiration, and that the Commission may grant such extension as it finds necessary to allow completion of the permitted work.
C. 
A permit issued under this chapter may be revoked or modified by the Commission after public notice and notice to the holder of the permit and a public hearing thereon, upon a finding of the existence of circumstances which would justify the denial of, or imposition of conditions on, a permit.
D. 
In its discretion, the Commission may combine the permit or other action on an application issued under this chapter with the order of conditions issued under the Wetlands Protection Act.
After public notice and public hearing, the Conservation Commission shall promulgate rules and regulations to achieve the purposes of this chapter. Failure by the Commission to promulgate such rules and regulations or a legal declaration of their invalidity by a court of law shall not act to suspend or invalidate the effect of this chapter.
The following definitions shall apply in the interpretation and implementation of this chapter:
ALTER
Includes, without limitation, the following activities when undertaken to, upon, within or affecting resource areas protected by this chapter:
[Amended 7-17-2000]
A. 
Removal, excavation or dredging of soil, sand, loam, peat, gravel or aggregate materials of any kind;
B. 
Changing of preexisting drainage characteristics, salinity distribution, sedimentation patterns, flow patterns or flood retention characteristics;
C. 
Drainage or other disturbance of water level or water table;
D. 
Dumping, discharging or filling with any material which may degrade water quality;
E. 
Placing of fill or removal of material which would alter elevation;
F. 
Driving of piles, erection, alteration or repair of buildings or structures of any kind;
G. 
Placing of obstructions or objects in water;
H. 
Destruction of plant life, including cutting of trees;
I. 
Changing water temperature, biochemical oxygen demand or other physical or chemical characteristics of water;
J. 
Any activities, changes or work which may cause or tend to contribute to pollution of any body of water or groundwater.
ISOLATED LAND SUBJECT TO FLOODING
Includes any ponding area within a depression that provides a temporary storage area of standing water, with no minimum size criteria.
ISOLATED VEGETATED WETLAND
Includes any vegetated wetland area containing greater than 50% wetland vegetation, hydric soils, and seasonal high groundwater conditions. Isolated vegetated wetland does not have to border a water body or flowing stream.
PERSON
Includes any individual, group of individuals, association, partnership, corporation, company, business organization, trust, estate, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts or political subdivision thereof to the extent subject to Town bylaws, administrative agency, public or quasi-public corporation or body, the Town of Cohasset and any other legal entity, its legal representatives, agents or assigns.
RIVERFRONT AREA
That area of land within 200 feet of a perennial river, with the two-hundred-foot riverfront zone being measured from the annual mean high-water line of the subject perennial river. The two-hundred-foot riverfront zone shall include a one-hundred foot inner zone and a one-hundred-foot outer zone.
VERNAL POOL
Includes any temporary ponding area that holds water for two consecutive months between December 31 and June 30 in a given year, and that meets the criteria for state certification, whether or not it is so certified. The vernal pool should be capable of providing habitat for obligate and facultative wetland wildlife species.
As part of a permit issued under this chapter, in addition to any security required by any other Town or state board, agency or official, the Conservation Commission may require that the performance and observance of any conditions imposed hereunder be secured wholly or in part by one or more of the methods described below:
A. 
By a proper bond or deposit of money or negotiable securities or other undertaking of financial responsibility in an amount sufficient in the opinion of the Commission;
B. 
By a conservation restriction, easement or other covenant enforceable in a court of law, executed and duly recorded by the owner of record, running with the land to the benefit of the Town of Cohasset requiring the permit conditions to be performed before any interest may be conveyed other than a mortgage interest.
A. 
The Conservation Commission, its agents, officers and employees shall have authority to enter upon privately owned land for the purpose of performing their duties under this chapter and make or cause to be made such examinations, surveys or sampling as the Commission deems necessary.
B. 
The Commission shall have authority to enforce this chapter, its regulations and permits issued thereunder by violation notices, administrative orders, enforcement orders and civil and criminal court actions.
[Amended 11-28-2016 STM by Art. 9]
C. 
Upon instruction from the Board of Selectmen at the request of the Commission, the Town Counsel shall take legal action for enforcement of civil law. Upon request of the Commission, the Chief of Police shall take legal action for enforcement under criminal law.
D. 
Town boards and officers, including any police officer or other officer having police powers, shall have authority to assist the Commission in enforcement.
E. 
Any person who violates any provision of this chapter, regulations thereunder, or permits issued thereunder shall be punished by a fine of not more than $300. 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.
F. 
In the alternative to criminal prosecution, the Commission may elect to utilize the noncriminal disposition procedure set forth in MGL c. 40, § 21D, and § 1-7 of the Town's General Bylaws. The penalty for each violation shall be $300. Each day or part thereof that a violation occurs shall constitute a separate offense.
[Amended 11-28-2016 STM by Art. 9]
G. 
Any person or entity to whom an enforcement order under state law or this bylaw has been issued by or on behalf of the Conservation Commission shall comply with the enforcement order. Any person or entity who fails to comply with the terms of an enforcement order issued by or on behalf of the Conservation Commission by the date specified within the enforcement order, or immediately if no date is specified, shall be in violation of this bylaw and shall be subject to a fine of $300 per day for each violation. The noncriminal disposition penalty for violation of an enforcement order shall be $300. Each day or part thereof of noncompliance shall constitute a separate violation. Fines and penalties imposed may be assessed in accordance with the noncriminal violations section of the Town's bylaw or by complaint in the appropriate court.
[Added 11-28-2016 STM by Art. 9]
The applicant for a permit shall have the burden of proving by a preponderance of the credible evidence that the work proposed in the application will not have unacceptable significant or cumulative effect upon the wetland values protected by this chapter.
This chapter is adopted under the Home Rule Amendment of the Massachusetts Constitution and the home rule statutes, independent of the Wetlands Protection Act and regulations thereunder.
The invalidity of any section or provision of this chapter shall not invalidate any other section or provision thereof, nor shall it invalidate any permit or determination which previously has been issued.