The Westborough Conservation Commission and staff work with landowners to administer and enforce state and local wetlands regulations. We are also responsible for natural resource management and protection, and are also actively engaged in land preservation efforts and environmental education.
The Duties/Scope of Your Committee
The Conservation Commission administers its duties in accordance with the Conservation Commission Act (Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 40, Section 8C). The Commission also administers the state Wetland Protection Act (Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 131, Section 40), and the Wetland Protection Act Regulations (310 CMR 10.00). The most recent version of the state regulations contain approximately 110 pages that the Commission and staff must interpret when applications are filed. The Conservation Commission also passed a local Wetlands Bylaw in 2008 and supporting Regulations in 2010, with revisions through May 8, 2012.
Under state and local statutes, individuals performing work within certain setbacks to wetland resource areas must file with the Commission through a public hearing. The Commission comments on the applications and a decision must be written in accordance with both state and local statutes. There are seven voting members and 2 non-voting associate members who may participate in all functions of the Commission except voting on actual motions. The Commission has a chairman who is responsible for running Commission meetings and participating in other formal meetings with other departments, and a vice chairman who takes the chairman’s place in his/her absence.
The Commission is the custodian of numerous land holdings in Town. These lands are set aside to be maintained as undeveloped land in perpetuity, and many are used for passive recreation. The Commission is responsible for the maintenance of these lands and for creating rules and regulations for the use and protection of such designated lands.
Commitment Level/Meeting Days and Times
The Conservation Commission currently meets on the second Tuesday of every month, starting at 7:00 PM, in Room 23 of the Forbes Municipal Building. The Conservation Commission performs numerous additional public worksessions and/or hearings and conducts site walks. The worksessions and site walks are usually posted with the Town Clerk and a minimum of 48 hours notice is given to the Commission members. The specific dates for the additional meetings are usually dependent upon when the greatest number of members are available to attend.
The commitment level of Commission members is lessened by having hired staff to assist with the day-to-day operations of the office. Public hearings usually run to approximately 9:00 PM, although it may be longer depending on the amount of hearings and the complexity of the applications. Many members serve as appointed members to other Town committees such as the Lee Property Committee, Open Space Preservation Committee, Water Resource Management Committee, Walkup-Robinson Fund Committee, Chapter 61A Study Committee. Commission members are also asked to comment and assist other Town departments/committees on various conservation-related topics during their three-year appointment.