Your Commissioners are bringing this site to you to answer questions about wetlands, about why we exist, what we do, and when you need to consult us. We hope you find the site informative and helpful. If you have questions, comments or suggestions, please call the office or e-mail us.
The Hopkinton Conservation Commission (HCC) typically meets two Monday’s a month. All HCC meetings are open to the public. The HCC may choose to schedule site walks as needed, typically on Saturday mornings. Please call the office for details.
Office hours are Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm. Tuesday from 8:00 am to 7:00 pm. Friday from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm.
If a public hearing is scheduled, an official notice will appear in the Metrowest Daily News and on the main bulletin board in Town Hall. Please see the link above for accessing HCC Meeting Agendas.
Application Supplement Documents
Abutter Notification Documents
- The Vernal Pool Association - Great information on vernal pools including slides of different types of pools and the critters that live or breed in them, as well as educational resources and much more.
What is the Hopkinton Conservation Commission?
The Hopkinton Conservation Commission is composed of seven volunteer members, appointed by the Board of Selectmen. It was established to promote and protect Hopkinton's natural resources, to protect watershed resources, to protect wetland resource areas, to provide permitting review for proposed projects within resource areas, and to coordinate with other town officials and boards on conservation issues that relate to its areas of responsibility.
What does the Commission do?
The Commission is the permitting authority specifically charged with the promotion and development of Hopkinton's natural resources, and the protection of wetland resource areas. The primary activity of the Commission is the administration of the Wetlands Protection Act (MGL 131, §40) and the Hopkinton Wetlands Protection Bylaw. The Commission also engages in planning, helping to acquire and manage open space, and encouraging and monitoring Conservation and Agricultural Preservation Restrictions.
What is the Wetlands Protection Act?
The Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act exists to preserve and protect Massachusetts wetlands by preventing pollution; reducing the effects of potential flooding; storm damage prevention; protecting groundwater supplies; maintaining habitats for plants and wildlife; and protecting public and private water supplies. A vernal pool habitat, which includes a buffer of 125 feet around the pool, is presumed significant to wildlife habitat when it lies within a state wetland resource area.
The Act gives local communities the authority to determine which Resource Areas within its jurisdiction are protected, to regulate work in these areas, and to enforce the regulations. The performance standards under the Act state that there may be no destruction or impairment of bordering vegetated wetland (BVW) areas: alteration of up to 5,000 square feet may be permitted at the Commission's discretion provided the area is properly replicated.
Vernal pools within a 125 ft. buffer, if they lie within a state wetland resource area, are given special protection, and no adverse effects on the wildlife habitat characteristics are permitted. Pools must have been certified through the Natural Heritage program or identified by a preponderance of the evidence presented at a public hearing to be protected under the State Act.
What Resource Areas are protected under these laws?
The protected resource areas include rivers, streams, brooks, ponds, lakes, wetlands, banks, floodplains, and vernal pools. Protection extends 100 feet from the edge of the wetlands, 125 feet from vernal pools, and 200 feet from rivers and most brooks and streams.
Rivers, streams, brooks, ponds, wetlands, and the underground aquifer in Hopkinton all are part of the system that provides water for use by Hopkinton's inhabitants. In addition, the wetlands provide habitat and food for aquatic life, birds, and animals and act as conduits for the movement of water from one area to another. Wetlands serve as temporary storage areas for water, filtering out pollution and allowing the filtered water to be absorbed into the aquifer.
It is illegal for anyone in Hopkinton to dredge, fill, modify or alter any of these resource areas without first filing for and receiving a permit. Anyone who may want to work within 100 feet of a wetland or within 200 feet of a brook, stream or river and who plans to build, grade, clear, apply herbicides or do any work which could alter the resource area must contact the Conservation Commission before doing so.
What is protected by the Hopkinton Wetlands Bylaw?
The Hopkinton Wetlands Protection Bylaw adds to the areas protected by the state Act any vegetated freshwater wetlands; marshes; wet meadows; bogs; swamps; vernal pools; banks; reservoirs, lakes; ponds of any size; rivers; streams; creeks; lands under waterbodies; lands subject to flooding or inundation by groundwater or surface water; and lands within 100 feet of any of these resource areas whether or not they border water bodies. Vernal pools and their 125 foot buffers are protected, regardless of whether they have been certified under the state program or whether the pool and buffer are located within state protected resource areas. The bylaw protects all of the interests identified in the state act, and adds: erosion and sediment control, and wildlife and recreational values. A buffer zone of 100 ft. around any resource area (125 feet for vernal pools) is subject to protection under the bylaw. Within this buffer zone, setbacks from the wetlands edge are defined. The Regulations (available below) establish specific minimum setbacks related to limit of work and limit of disturbance, and are tabulated according to project type.
When should you consult the Commission?
Anytime you plan to work within the 100-foot buffer zone of a Resource Area, or within the 200-foot buffer zone of a Riverfront Area, you'll need to obtain the necessary permits from the Commission. When in doubt, our Wetland Scientist or Administrator will be happy to consult with you and answer your questions. For detailed information, please contact the office.