An Abutter's Guide to the Conservation Commission Permitting Process

An Abutter’s Guide to the Conservation Commission Permitting Process

The Randolph Conservation Commission  has prepared this guide to explain what you, as an abutter to a proposal to conduct work in or near wetlands, can expect during the project permitting process. It is not intended as a legal guide, but to help you understand how to participate in hearings, get information, and best communicate any concerns. To reach the Commission, please call 781-961-1519 or email the Conservation Department located in Town Hall at 41 South Main Street Randolph, MA 02368.

Who is notified of a wetlands project? The Randolph Wetlands Protection Bylaw  requires that all property owners within 300- feet of a proposal to conduct work in or near wetlands are notified by the applicant by mail. All wetland hearings are also legally advertised ina local newspaper at least 5 days prior to the hearing.

How Can I Find Out More About What is Proposed? Residents are encouraged to call the Conservation Department at Town Hall or the Applicant to ask questions. The application and proposed plan are on file at the Conservation office. You are welcome to review this information and may pay for copies of any information that you would like to keep.  Since staff is part-time and often conducting site visits, it is best to make an appointment.

What Should I Expect at the Public Hearing? At the hearing, the applicant or property owner will present plans and explain what is proposed. The Commission members will ask questions and the Chairperson will provide an opportunity for anyone in the audience to ask questions or offer an opinion as it relates to wetland protection. Since the Commission reviews several projects in an evening, hearings last only for a specified period of time. At the end of this time, the hearing may be either closed (if there is no more information to be received) or continued to a specific date and time (if the Commission needs additional information). Additional notifications of continuations are not mailed. Commission agendas are posted on the Town's calendar no less than 48 hours before a meeting date.  

What Issues Does the Commission Consider? The scope of issues that the Conservation Commission can consider in reviewing proposed projects is defined by the Mass. Wetlands Protection Act and Regulations and the Randolph Wetlands Protection Ordinances.  In presenting testimony (oral or written), please be aware that the Commission’s jurisdiction only relates to wetland issues.

Presenting Testimony at Public Hearings

You must be recognized to speak by the chairperson.

State your name and address for the record before you speak.

Use the proposed plan to point out concerns or questions.

State all questions or concerns at once and then allow the next person to speak.

Be polite and respectful of differing opinions.

While you may have questions of the applicant, they must be addressed to the Commission chairperson. 

Issues relating to the project that are within the scope of the Commission may be presented.  Issues such as traffic and noise are outside of the Commission's authority to review.

It is fine to just say “I agree with Mr. Smith about that drainage issue” rather than restating the same concerns.

How Can I Make My Concerns Known if I Cannot Attend? Comments can be submitted in writing prior to the close of the public hearing. As with all testimony (oral and written), it is most helpful to raise concerns early in the process. Send written comments to the Conservation office at Town Hall.

What Happens After the Hearing? After the hearing is closed, the Commission deliberates the project and impacts on the wetlands.  They issue a decision (Order of Conditions), within 21 days of closing the hearing outlining the approval of a project and any criteria the property owner must comply with to protect the associated wetland areas.  The Commission may deny a project if it cannot be adequately conditioned to protect wetlands.

Will I Be Notified of the Decision? You may request a copy from the Conservation office at Town Hall. The property owner is also required to record the decision at the Norfolk Registry of Deeds in Dedham. 

How Can I Appeal? Appeals of decisions under the Wetlands Protection Act (called a Request for a Superseding Order of Conditions) must be made to the Department of Environmental Protection within 10 days using forms supplied by DEP. Appeals may be made by the Applicant, an abutter, 10 residents of the community, or the Department of Environmental Protection. For more information, please visit Mass.gov.