About the Conservation Commission

The Somerville Conservation Commission (Con Com) is devoted to preserving and protecting Somerville's natural environment. The Con Com administers and enforces the Rivers 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.

  • Members & Meetings

  • Wetland & River Protection

  • Open Space & Community Gardens

  • Forms & Information

The Commission consists of 7 volunteers appointed by the Mayor and approved by the Alderman who serve three-year terms or until another Commissioner is appointed:

  • Rachel Borgatti
  • Michael Fager
  • Jamie Lefkowitz
  • Mathias Neuber, Chair
  • David Turin
  • Owen Wartella
  • (Vacant)

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 x2516.

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 enforcement 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.

Community Gardens

The Commission initiated and oversees the City's Community Garden program. The Commission helps establish new gardens, hires a city-wide garden coordinator and establishes policies for the gardens. Currently, the City has 11 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 provides advice and support to OSPCD in open space planning efforts related to 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, biodiversity, and waterfront recreation. The Commission also reviews plans to maintain rights-of-way prepared by railroads and highway departments.

Notice of Intent

Anyone who plans to remove, fill, dredge, or alter a protected resource area, including a wetland, a buffer zone to a wetland, or a riverfront area, must file a Notice of Intent.

In order for the Somerville Conservation Commission (SCC) to effectively process your Notice of Intent filed under the Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act M.G.L. 131 s.40, the SCC requests that you submit eight (8) copies  of the completed Notice of Intent application and (2) full-sized copies of plans to the SCC at 93 Highland Avenue, Somerville. In addition, send one (1) electronic copy of the notice of intent package (application and plans) to the Conservation Agent. Contact information for the Conservation Agent is located in the upper right-hand corner of this page.

Submit the NOI package (application and plans) at least 2 weeks (10 business days) in advance of hearing. Submit the completed application and filing fees no more than 15 and no fewer than 10 business days prior to this hearing to provide timely placement of a Legal Notice of Public Hearing in the local paper, the Somerville Journal. The applicant will be directly invoiced by the newspaper for the cost of the Legal Notice.

Filing Tips and Public Notices

  • Common Resource areas in Somerville include:
    • Bordering Vegetated Wetlands (BVW - rare in Somerville)
    • Inland Bank
    • Bordering Land Subject to Flooding (BLSF, 100-year floodplain)
    • Riverfront Area (25 feet)
  • Both Alewife Brook and Mystic River are fish runs
  • Somerville is not subject to Wetlands Restriction Order (Page 7 of NOI) and does not have a local wetland by-law (as of 1-29-2009)

NOI Package Submission and Notification of Public

Submit the NOI package (application and plans) and filing fees no more than 20 and no fewer than 14 calendar days prior to the next public meeting of the Somerville Conservation Commission to provide timely placement of a Legal Notice of Public Hearing in one of the local papers (the Somerville Journal, the Somerville News, or the Boston Herald). The Commission will place the Legal Notice of Public Hearing in the newspaper, and the Applicant will be directly invoiced by the newspaper for the cost of posting.

Abutter Notification

Abutters within 100 feet of the property line must be notified of the public hearing on the Notice of Intent. Abutter Notification is the responsibility of the Applicant. A certified list of abutters is not required.  Abutter notification certified mail receipts are to be supplied to the SCC prior to or at the opening of the Hearing.

After the Hearing (and any Appeal periods)

Record the Order of Conditions: Once an Order of Conditions has been issued and the ten day appeal period has expired with no appeal, the Applicant must record the Order of Conditions with the Middlesex South County Registry of Deeds, 208 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA 02140, ph: 617-494-4500, and must send a copy of the tear-off form with the Registry book and page marks to the SCC. The Applicant may then apply for a building permit and begin the project in accordance with the conditions of the SCC.

Certificate of Compliance: Upon completion of the project, the Applicant must send a written request to the SCC for a Certificate of Compliance (refer to the Order of Conditions for the form and procedures to be used). When applicable, include an as-built plan stamped and signed by a PLS and a written certification signed and stamped by a PE or Architect that the project has been completed in "substantial compliance" with the cited plans and with the Order of Conditions, and stating any deviations.

The Applicant's Certificate of Compliance must be recorded at the Middlesex County (South) Registry of Deeds and certification of recording sent to the SCC as required by the Wetlands Protection Act regulations.

NOI Checklist

  • Applicant name- not just agency
  • Property owner
  • Project Description must be clear
  • Project Impacts must be filled out completely (including work in 100-foot buffer zone from Bank and/or BVW). Check numbers against plans for consistency
  • Appropriate sections of Areas Subject to Regulation and Performance Standards filled out completely (will vary with project)
  • If limited project exemption is requested, check regulations for accuracy (310 CMR 10.53).
  • NOI Form (Page 7) must include check number, date, and payer name (“Somerville Conservation Commission” for Cons. Comm. check)
  • Be sure the application is signed by the entity responsible for the project; the signature of the consultant preparing the NOI is not generally sufficient

The following must accompany the application:

  • Submit a check in the correct amount for Wetland Filing Fees payable to the SCC, with fee transmittal form (WPA Appendix B) attached (cities and towns are exempt from filing fees)
  • Proof of payment to DEP lock box (copy of check)
  • Abutters list (required for all projects except when MassHighway is the applicant)
  • Affidavit of Service - Form that states that abutters were properly notified.
  • Notification to Abutters - Sample of letter sent to abutters notifying them of project
  • USGS map showing project location
  • FEMA map showing project location

Project Plans must show:

  • Existing conditions
  • Proposed work
  • Regulated resource area(s) boundaries - including BLSF, if present
  • Buffer zone(s) boundaries
  • Should be stamped and dated (stamp not required by DEP, but may be required by SCC)
  • Scale (no greater than 50 scale)
  • North arrow
  • Title Block

Additionally, as applicable, submit:

  • Any photographs related to this project which may show the affected resource areas.
  • Documentation supporting compliance with MA DEP's Stormwater Management Policy and Stormwater Management Guidelines; including Stormwater Report and Stormwater Report Checklist.
  • Details of drainage system, including oil separating catch basins, particle and oil separators, detention systems, outfalls, sewer connections, etc.
  • The Commission may require payment of a fee in order to hire consultants to assist the commission review the filing.

Request for Determination of Applicability

If the applicant knows an NOI is required, there is no need to file a Request for Determination of Applicability, unless the applicant proposes work to piers or docks, or plans to dredge or fill land under water. A Determination of Applicability answers the question of whether the proposed project requires a Waterways (Chapter 91) license or other authorization to proceed. It is usually not necessary to submit a Request for Determination, since local and state review of NOIs and MEPA review of ENFs will determine if additional authorization is needed.

The Applicant may file a Request for Determination (RDA) with the Somerville Conservation Commission (SCC) and the state to find out whether an NOI is required, and whether additional authorizations are needed. If it is determined that an NOI is needed, the Applicant must then file an NOI, following the directions for filing NOIs, above.

No abutter notification is required when filing an RDA, but the applicant must meet SCC deadlines for a timely filing.

ANRADs and ORADs

An Abbreviated Notice of Resource Area Delineation (ANRAD) allows an applicant to confirm resource boundaries with the Conservation Commission. The Applicant provides information about the resource areas he/she has delineated and wishes to be confirmed. All procedures (e.g. abutter notification and advertised public hearing) and time periods are the same as for a Notice of Intent.

After review of the ANRAD, the commission issues order an Order of Resource Area Delineation (ORAD). The ORAD is used to confirm, modify, or deny a resource area boundary.

If an Applicant files a Request for Determination of Applicability (RDA) and the Commission issues a Positive Determination (checking Box 1) indicating that the area is subject to the Wetlands Protection Act, the Applicant will then needs to file an ANRAD or an NOI.