Role of the Commission
The Somerville Conservation Commission (Con Com) is devoted to preserving and protecting Somerville's natural environment. The Con Com administers and enforces the Wetland Protection Act and River Protection Acts (MGL Chapter 131 Section 40), and has an important role in open space planning pursuant to its authority under the Conservation Commission Act MGL Chapter 40 Section 8c.
Wetland and Rivers Protection
The Commission reviews and approves applications for activities that near the waterfront areas of Somerville including the Alewife Brook and the Mystic River. The Commission has jurisdiction over activities within 100 feet of a wetland, 25 feet of a river as well as activities outside those boundaries that impact the wetland resources. The Commission has authority to issue orders when activities violate the wetland and river protection laws. The Commission works closely with the Mayor's Office of Strategic Planning and Community Development which provides a part-time Conservation Agent to assist with the Commission's mission. The Commission receives wetland permit fees to assist with the review of applications and can also hire consultants at the expense of applicants to assist with the review.
The Commission initiated and oversees the City's Community Garden program. The Commission helps establish new gardens, hire a city-wide garden coordinator and establishes policies for the gardens. Currently the City has 8 active gardens and plans to establish at least two more. The Commission administers the Conservation Fund that can accept donations for the assistance with gardens and plantings in the City.
Open Space Planning
The Commission works with OSPCD in an effort to develop the 5-year Open Space Master Plan. The plan reviews all current open space areas in Somerville including recreational and passive parks, proposes improvements to existing parks and establishes the need for new open space, parks, community gardens and other recreational areas within the City.
Environmental Review and Policies
The Commission as warrants provides advice and support to the City on a range of other environmental matters such as appropriate landscaping for new developments, storm water pollution education, bio-diversity and waterfront recreation. The Commission also reviews plans to maintain rights-of-way prepared by railroads and highway departments.
The Commissioners and Meetings
The Commission consists of 7 volunteers appointed by the Mayor and approved by the Alderman who serve two-year terms or until another Commissioner is appointed. The Commission also has non-appointed associate members who participate in events and attend meetings in a non-voting capacity.
The Commission generally meets once per month, on the 4th Tuesday at 7 P.M. at City Hall (except in August and December). For more information, please contact 617-625-6600 X2518.