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The Rivers Protection Act of 1996 expanded the jurisdiction of the Wetlands Protection Act (MGL Ch. 131 §40) by regulating activities within a new wetland resource area, referred to as the Riverfront Area.
The Wetlands Protection Act identifies eight protected riverfront interests, including: flood control, prevention of storm damage, prevention of pollution, fisheries, land containing shellfish, groundwater, public or private water supply, and wildlife habitat.
After submitting an NOI, the Committee's staff will schedule a public hearing (within 21 days), and post a legal notice in the Wellesley Townsman for the proposed project. The Wetlands Administrator will then review the application and visit the proposed project's site. After the NOI hearing has been closed, the Committee will make its decision and issue an Order of Conditions (wetlands permit) within 21 days.
The Order of Conditions ("Order") will either approve the project and include specific construction requirements (to protect the Riverfront area), or deny the project if the proposed project does not meet the performance standards (created to protect resource areas) of the State Wetlands Protection Act ("Act") and/or the Wellesley's Wetlands Protection Bylaw ("Bylaw). A denial may also result from the submission of an inadequate, or incomplete, NOI application. The Applicant, the abutters, or the DEP, may appeal the Committee's 1 under the Act within 10 business days (to the DEP), 2 under the Bylaw within 60 calendar days (to Superior Court).
The following minor activities are exempt: - Unpaved walkways added for private use. - Fencing, provided it will not impede wildlife movement. - Vista Pruning - the selective thinning of tree branches or under-story shrubs to create a "window" to improve visibility - as long as it occurs more than 50 feet from the mean annual high water line within a riverfront area or from a bordering vegetated wetland, whichever is farther away. (This does not include the cutting of trees which reduces the leaf canopy to less than 90% of the existing crown cover or the mowing or removal of under-story brush.) - Planting of native vegetation in the area. - Conversion of lawns to accessory uses for single family houses (decks, sheds, patios, pools), provided they are more than 50 feet away from the river.Conversion of impervious surfaces to vegetation; provided erosion control is used during construction. - Temporary planning and design activities having negligible impacts.