Wetland Regulations and Permits

Amesbury is blessed with expansive wetlands and rich natural resources. Property owners need to be aware of the location of these wetlands and other natural resources so that we can mitigate any impacts from new or expanding buildings and homes or other alterations of the land.

Wetlands and other natural resources are protected by the Wetlands Protection Act, which was adopted in 1972. The Act requires homeowners and developers doing any activity near a wetland to obtain a wetland permit from the municipal Conservation Commission prior to commencement of the project. In addition to enforcing the federal Wetlands Protection Act, the Conservation Commission enforces the Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act and the Amesbury Wetlands Protection Ordinance. The Commission is guided by the Amesbury Wetland Regulations which defines resources that require protection such as wetlands, streams, and land subject to flooding and vernal pools among others. The Regulations also contain ‘setbacks’ which establish the distance that a particular activity must be from the resource in question.

Landowners who would like to learn more about their properties, or about the potential implication of wetlands on a future project, can contact the Conservation Agent at conservation@amesburyma.gov or (978) 388-8110, x504.

Violations or alleged violations of the Wetlands Protection Act can be filed here.

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The Filing Process

There are several processes which may be required depending on the nature of the work being proposed.

Request for Determination of Eligibility (RDA)
The applicant asks the Commission to determine whether they need to oversee a project. If a positive determination is made, the applicant will then need to submit a Notice of Intent (NOI). Alternatively, the Commission may determine that the applicant may move forward with their project following a simple set of guidelines, which would be issues in an Order of Resource Delineation (ORAD). 

Abbreviated Notice of Resource Area Delineation (ANRAD)
The applicant obtains an official delineation of a resource area (marking the boundary of the resources on site) prior to submitting a Notice of Intent (NOI).

Notice of Intent (NOI)
This is the official submission document to the Conservation Commission and state DEP (there are separate forms for local and state submission). The submission and acceptance of the NOI constitutes the beginning of the ‘hearing process’ for the project. During the hearing process applicants submit engineering plans showing the resources areas and details of the project. The Commission may make a site visit to assess the project and resource areas. Abutters are notified that this application has been submitted and are invited to attend the hearings and give information pertinent to the project. Once the Commission is satisfied that they have received all information regarding the project and its impact on the resource areas they issue an acceptance or denial of the project.

Order of Conditions (OOC)
The Order of Conditions (WPA Form 5) is the permit for the project and will govern how the work must be performed to be in compliance with the Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act (MGL Ch 131 §40) and the City of Amesbury Wetlands Protection Ordinance. Please carefully read both the general Order of Conditions and the special Attachment to the Order of Conditions to be sure you understand each condition. Below is an FAQ about Order of Conditions, which can also be viewed or downloaded here as a PDF.

Certificate of Compliance (COC)
The applicant must file for a COC within 30 days of the completion of a project. The Agent verifies that all special conditions of the OOC have been satisfied and submits the final COC to the Commission for sign-off.  Once the Commission has signed off on the COC the document is recorded with the Registry of Deeds to clear the OOC from the property deed. 

Enforcement Order (EO)
This is the enforcement tool used by Conservation Commissions to ensure that a) ad hoc activities in a resource area are controlled and b) the conditions in an OOC are explicitly followed. The EO is issued against an individual/firm and allows for fines per day per offense.