Understanding the Wetlands Protection Act (WPA)

The Wetlands Protection Act is the state law that ensures critical natural resources that serve public interests are protected. The following Resource Areas fall under the jurisdiction of the Conservation Commission through the WPA:

Coastal Resources Areas (beaches, dunes, salt marshes)

Inland Resource Areas (ponds, intermittent streams, bordering vegetated wetlands, floodplains, riverbanks)

Riverfront Resource Areas (200 feet from any perennial stream or river)

Buffer Zones (area extending 100 feet from the edge of a resource area) Note: Not all Resource Areas have buffer zones

Any building project that takes place in one of these Resource Areas or a buffer zone of a Resource Area requires a filing with the Conservation Commission.

Working Under the Wetlands Protection Act - Requesting a Site Visit:

Most projects (i.e. perc. tests, additions, paving roadways, building accessory structures, swimming pools, etc.) that require building permits from the Building Department first require a sign-off from the Conservation Commission. To complete this first step, stop by the Commission office at Town Hall and complete a Site Visit form. The form requires you to provide the following information:

  • the project location (map & lot number)
  • a brief description of the work to be done
  • a basic site plan showing where the proposed project will take place

In addition, the location of the proposed work should be flagged or staked in the field. The Conservation Agent will conduct an inspection within 14 days. If no wetland resources are present, the Agent will sign-off on the project and no further filing with the Commission for the project is necessary. If wetland resources are present near the proposed work site, the Agent will advise the applicant on how to proceed. Usually a Request for Determination of Applicability (RDA) or a Notice of Intent (NOI) are required.

To find out more about these two filings, and the Wetlands Protection Act in general, Click Here --- to view this information on Department of Environmental Protection's web page! The Conservation Agent is also available to answer any questions you may have regarding the Act and other environmental regulations.