It is the Conservation Commission’s primary responsibility to protect and preserve the wetlands in East Longmeadow and to this end prohibit disturbance of certain areas. The Conservation Commission is charged with administering and enforcing the Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act within the town.
Massachusetts has been at the cutting edge of environmental protection for over half a century. The Commonwealth invented the municipal Conservation Commission — a key element in the framework of its protective laws and programs. First authorized under state law in 1957, Conservation Commissions have since gained additional authority from the Massachusetts General Court, from amendments to the Massachusetts Constitution, and from municipal bylaws and ordinances. A full awareness and understanding of the range of powers and duties, as well as the limits, that derive from each of these sources are essential to Commission effectiveness.
Request for Determination (RDA)/Notice of Intent (NOI)
Any proposed alteration of Wetlands, Buffer Zones or Riverfront areas should be described in a Request for Determination of Applicability (RDA) Mass DEP form WPA 1 and submitted to the Conservation Commission. In certain cases, a Notice of Intent (NOI) Mass DEP form WPA 3 may be required. A public notice will be placed in a local newspaper at least five (5) business days prior to the hearing date. Therefore, the applicant should file at least two weeks prior to the target meeting date.
Building permit applicants are advised that any projects within wetland buffer zones or within 200 feet of a perennial stream or river must be approved by the East Longmeadow Conservation Commission. Map views of approximate wetland or river resources can be found on MassMapper. Commissioners are also willing to review draft building plans and provide advice to applicants during a regularly scheduled meeting. The granting of a building permit does not confer or imply any approval with respect to wetland regulations.
For submittal requirements and other pertinent forms please refer to the section for Conservation Commission Submittals.
The applicant is responsible for sending a copy of the Request for Determination of Applicability (RDA) or Notice of Intent (NOI) to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection office in Springfield as well as providing the original form and supporting materials to the Conservation Commission.
The 1957 Conservation Commission Act (GL. Ch. 40 §8C) authorized each city and town in Massachusetts to establish a locally appointed municipal agency to plan for natural resource protection, acquire important land and water areas, and manage these properties for conservation and passive recreation. Until 1972 Commissions, as the official municipal agencies charged with natural resource protection, focused on these tasks.
When in 1972 Conservation Commissions were given responsibility for administering the then new state Wetlands Protection Act (GL. Ch. 131 §40), their role in community government expanded enormously. Commissions since that time have also worked for passage of local non-zoning wetlands bylaws or ordinances, which they also administer. New powers and responsibilities have come with the local option to accept the Community Preservation Act and the recent authority granted to Commissions to assess consultant fees when needed to carry out their duties. Commission powers and duties under the above laws stem variously from Article 89 (Home Rule) and Article 97 (Public Land Protection) of the state Constitution. Each of these, and their relationships, is discussed in the following sections.
Conservation Commissions and their expanding role in the context of environmental protection in Massachusetts are covered in HB §L2 below.
Figure 1A. Sources of Conservation Commission Authority
It is important to note the entirely distinct sources of Conservation Commissions' powers and responsibilities. These are summarized in bullets below. Land acquisition and protection derive from the original Conservation Commission Act, Article 97 of the state Constitution, which gives special protection to municipal lands voted to conservation, and G.L. Ch. 184, which allows the creation of permanent restrictions on land. Regulation of work in and near wetlands derives from the state Wetlands Protection Act and from local bylaws or ordinances authorized under Article 89 of the state Constitution. Other local bylaws and ordinances and state laws may give Commissions authority over additional matters such as erosion, groundwater or earth removal. Sometimes this plurality of sources confuses the public (and some Commissioners and other municipal officials as well); but they are the wellsprings of Commission power.
• Massachusetts Constitution (Articles 89 and 97)
• Conservation Commission Act (G.L. Ch. 40 §8C)
• Wetlands Protection Act (G. L. Ch. 131 §40)
• Municipal General (Non-Zoning) Wetlands Bylaws/Ordinances
• Community Preservation Act (G.L. Ch. 44B)
• Consultant Fee Provisions (GL. Ch. 44 §53G)
• Conservation Restriction Act (GL. Ch. 184 §§31-33
• Other Bylaws/Ordinances and Statutes