Frequently Asked Questions

What activities are prohibited in the 50-foot No-Build Zone?

  • The 50-foot No-Build Zone is regulated under the North Andover Wetlands Protection Regulations (§ 3.4). Construction of any kind is prohibited within 50-feet of the edge of the any wetland resource area, as identified above. Structures include, but are not limited to, foundations and footing associated with single-family dwellings, multi-family dwellings, commercial and / or industrial buildings, porches, patios, decks, house additions, building additions, pools, septic systems, and sheds. Driveways, roadways, retaining walls and landscape boulder walls may be allowed in the 50-foot No-Build Zone when no other feasible location or alternative means of access exists.

How do I get my (performance) security bond back?

  • Typically, the performance bond is released concurrent with the issuance of a Certificate of Compliance (COC). However, you may request a portion of the bond prior to receiving the COC. This requires you to submit a written request and appear before the Conservation Commission at its next scheduled meeting.

What is a Buffer Zone?

  • The area of land that extends 100-feet horizontally outward from the boundary of any resource area. This area is subject to protection under the MA Wetlands Protection Act (M.G.L. 131, § 40) & its Regulations (310 CMR 10.00 – 10.60), and the North Andover Wetlands Protection Bylaw & its Regulations (c.178 of the Code of North Andover).

How does one obtain a Certificate of Compliance (COC)?


  • The applicant should read the section in the Order of Conditions subtitled, ‘After Construction’ requirements for specific instructions. The applicant must complete a WPA Form 8A Request for Certificate of Compliance accompanied by a current as-built plan(s) that are stamped and signed by a Professional Civil Engineer (P.E) or a Registered Land Surveyor (R.L.S). A written statement from a P.E. or R.L.S. certifying that the work has been conducted as shown on the plan(s) and documents referenced above, and as conditioned by the Commission must also accompany the request

Upon submittal, the Conservation Associate will perform a final site inspection to determine compliance. After the inspection, the request will be placed on the next scheduled meeting.

Once the Conservation Commission approves the request for a COC, the true & attested copy will be sent directly to the applicant. The COC must be recorded at the Essex North Registry of Deeds, 381 Common Street, Lawrence, MA. Their hours of operation are Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Once you have recorded this document, proof of recording must be submitted to the North Andover Conservation Department.


What are the Stormwater Management Standards?

  • In 1996 the MA DEP issued this policy to establish clear and consistent guidelines for stormwater management across the state. The standards of this policy, enforced by the Conservation Commission, are intended to prevent untreated discharges to wetlands and waters; preserve hydrologic conditions that closely resemble pre-development conditions; reduce or prevent flooding by managing the peak discharge and volumes of runoff; minimize erosion and sedimentation; reduce suspended solids and other pollutants to improve water quality; and provide increased protection of sensitive natural resources. Since January 2, 2008, MassDEP has applied the Stormwater Management Standards pursuant to its authority under the Wetlands Protection Act, M.G.L.c. 131, § 40, and the Wetlands Protection Act Regulations, 310, CMR 10.00, when reviewing projects subject to jurisdiction under the Act.  Please consult the following link for more information: Massachusetts Stormwater Handbook.

How do I know if I am ready to receive a Certificate of Compliance to close out my Conservation Permit?

  • Once all work outlined in the project’s Order of Conditions have been completed and all exposed areas are permanently stable against erosion runoff, you may be ready to request a Certificate of Compliance. We encourage the applicants to contact the Conservation Department to schedule an inspection.

What streams or rivers have a protected 200-foot Riverfront Resource Area in North Andover?

  • The North Andover Conservation Commission protects the following streams and rivers regardless of an intermittent or perennial flow condition: Mosquito Brook, Rocky Brook, Boston Brook, Fish Brook, Cedar Brook, Cochichewick Brook, the Merrimack River and the Shawsheen River.

Rivers and streams not referenced above or not identified on a USGS map may still have a 200-foot Riverfront Area associated to them, per 310 CMR 10.58.

I have obtained a permit with the North Andover Conservation Commission and I am ready to start work. What do I need to do?

  • The applicant should thoroughly read the Order of Conditions, or the Determination of Applicability (whichever is applicable). Once all of the ‘Pre-Construction’ requirements have been met, contact the Conservation Department to schedule an inspection. It is important to note that the Conservation Department cannot sign off on the building permit unless the applicant has successfully passed the ‘Pre-Construction’ inspection.

What does a Conservation Commission protect under the Rivers Protections Act?

  • In 1996 the Commonwealth of Massachusetts enacted the Rivers Protection Act. This Act essentially added the protection of "Riverfront Area" to the resource areas protected under the Wetlands Protection Act. The Riverfront Area is generally land (both wet and dry) measured from the mean annual high water line (MAHW) horizontally outward and parallel 200-feet away. This area is subject to protection under the MA Wetlands Protection Act (M.G.L. 131, § 40) & its Regulations (310 CMR 10.00 – 10.60), and the North Andover Wetlands Protection Bylaw & its Regulations (c.178 of the Code of North Andover).

What constitutes an abutter?

  • The Wetlands Protection Act Regulations defines an abutter as an owner of land within 100-feet of any lot line where a project is proposed. Under the Town of North Andover Wetlands Protection Regulations, an abutter is defined as the owner of land that lies within a 300-foot radius from any lot line of the subject property.

What is a wetland?


  • Although the term "wetland" may be specifically defined, many people use it interchangeably with general terms: "conservation land", "protected land", "open space", "special conservation", "drainage area", "the portion of my lawn I cannot mow until August"; the list goes on and on. The Conservation Commission and its related agencies cumulatively consider many of these terms "wetland resource areas" or simply "resource areas". These "resource areas" are discussed briefly in the following questions. A good regulatory definition of the term "wetland", however, may be found in the Federal Clean Water Act as: "those areas that are inundated or saturated by surface or ground water at a frequency and duration sufficient to support, and that under normal circumstances do support, a prevalence of vegetation typically adapted for life in saturated soil conditions. Wetlands generally include swamps, marshes, bogs and similar areas." Wetlands range in wetness from areas that are permanently flooded to those that are only saturated or inundated for relatively brief times during the growing season .

The Town’s wetland resource areas consist of the following:

  1. any Isolated Vegetated Wetland (IVW) greater than 1,000 s.f. in size;
  2. any Ephemeral (vernal) Pool and Ephemeral (vernal) Pool Habitat;
  3. any vegetated wetlands bordering on any creek, river, stream, pond, or lake;
  4. any bank, beach, marsh, wet meadow, bog, or swamp;
  5. any land under any creek, river, stream , pond, or lake;
  6. any 100-foot Buffer Zone, 50-foot No Build Zone, and 25-foot No Disturbance Zone associated to the wetland areas mentioned above;
  7. any land subject to storm flowage, or flooding by groundwater or surface discharge;
  8. and the 200-foot Riverfront Resource Area (RRA).

Wetlands are characterized by using three parameters: soils, vegetation, and hydrology. Soil descriptions provide useful information about drainage characteristics, ranging from excessively drained to very poor drained. Wetland soils are typically classified as poorly drained or very poorly drained.

Plants have evolved adaptations for life in a wide range of wetland conditions resulting in plant species that demonstrate varying degrees of affinity of wet habitats. Some species grow only in habitats that are wet year-round. Most wetland plants tolerate a range of hydrologic conditions and may occur in uplands as well as wetlands.

Hydrology refers to the movement of water within and through a wetland. Hydrologic features such as the frequency, timing, depth, and duration of inundation, water table fluctuations, and the movement of ground and surface water are the driving forces behind all wetland systems. Water in a wetland may be surface water, groundwater, or a combination of the two.


How can I find out if wetlands exist on my property?

  • You may contact the Conservation Department to determine if there are any wetlands on your property. Research would be done from the office to find out if there was a previous filing at the specific site that could contain information about wetlands. Staff may be available to inspect the site if specifically requested. However, please keep in mind that conservation staff is not allowed to mark the wetlands in the field. If there are resource areas located on your property and you wish to have the boundaries marked, you must retain a Professional Wetland Scientist to perform a wetland delineation.

I have a tree (dead or alive) in my yard that I want to cut down. Can I do this?

  • Any disturbance of vegetation, including removal of trees within areas protected by the Wetland Protection Act or the North Andover Wetland Protection Bylaw must be approved by the Conservation Commission. Protected areas include wetland resource areas, 100-foot, 50-foot, and 25-foot buffer zones around these resource areas, and 200-foot wide Riverfront areas around perennial streams. Application procedures may vary widely depending upon the nature of the proposal. Please contact the Conservation Department for further direction at 978.688.9530. If a tree is located within a protected area, but is a hazard to health and safety, please contact the Conservation Department to schedule a site inspection.

Where can I purchase hay bales for erosion control purposes?

DISCLAIMER: This list is not meant to imply endorsement or recommendation by the NACC. The companies listed here are merely those with whom the Commission is aware of that may sell and / or install temporary erosion control measures. This list was produced to meet frequent requests from the public who ask where erosion controls can be purchased. The Commission in no way guarantees services provided by these companies.

What is a vernal pool?


  • Vernal (meaning spring) pools, also known as ephemeral pools, are unique wildlife habitats, which have become an increasingly rare type of wetland in Massachusetts. Due to their sensitivity, vernal pools and the surrounding areas are protected under the MA Wetlands Protection Act, as well as the North Andover Wetlands Protection Bylaw. Vernal pools provide critical habitat for amphibians and invertebrate animals, such as the wood frog (Rana sylvatica), blue-spotted salamander (Ambystoma laterale), Blanding's turtle (Emydoidea blandingii), and spotted turtle (Clemmys guttata). A vernal pool is a confined basin that typically fills with water in the autumn or winter due to rising groundwater and rainfall. The water remains ponded throughout the spring, until the water dries up in the summer months. Many amphibians and invertebrate species rely on vernal pools for their breeding, feeding, and shelter purposes. For that reason, vernal pools are essential for the continued survival of the wildlife species that are dependent upon this rare and threatened resource area.

    In North Andover alone, there are approximately 65 certified vernal pools. The Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program (NHESP) have certified these pools. NHESP has provided the Conservation Department with an updated map, which depicts the locations of all certified vernal pools, as well as areas designated as estimated habitat. You may view this map at any time at the Conservation Department.

What can I do to help maintain the health of wetland resource areas?

  • You can do many things:
  1. Remove trash and bottles by hand from a wetland resource area.
  2. Dispose of yard waste off site, such as the Cyr’s Recycling Center, located on Sharpners Pond Road, or set up a compost pile greater than 25 feet from the wetland resource area. Leaves and grass clippings will decompose to become your best soil. However, if yard waste is disposed of within the wetland resource area or within the 25’ No-Disturbance Zone, it will be considered a violation under the local Wetlands Bylaw. If observed by the Conservation Department, it will be required to be removed by hand. Yard waste within a wetland resource area is considered fill and is strictly prohibited.
  3. Near the resource area, set up a small brush pile or two made of branches from yard waste. Brush piles make good wildlife cover. However, in general, brush piles should not be deposited in wetland resource areas as a means of disposal.
  4. Do not dump motor oil into street drains. What goes into the drains and the ground in North Andover eventually goes into the Merrimack River, and, in many areas, our drinking supply water, Lake Cochichwick. Proper disposal of oil is available at the store where you purchased it. You may also contact the North Andover DPW at 978.685.0950 or visit their website for a complete list and schedule of recycling and hazardous waste: Division of Public Works
  5. Do not dump anything that pollutes.
  6. Avoid or minimize the use of de-icing salt near resource areas and drainage systems. Many stores carry more nature-friendly alternatives.
  7. Avoid or minimize the use of fertilizers and poisons near resource areas and drainage systems. Some fertilizers can cause algae blooms in our surface waters. Some poisons can impact the plants and wildlife in the resource areas. Fertilizers utilized for landscaping and lawn care shall be slow-release, low-nitrogen types (5% or less), and shall not be used within 25-feet to any resource area.
  8. Make use of drywells for drainage to avoid heavy runoff into our watercourses from roofs and paving. The use of drywells also recharges the groundwater table by infiltrating rainwater.
  9. Maintain your septic system properly. Contact the North Andover Health Department for more information on proper septic system maintenance, such as pumping needs and the impacts of chemicals and hazardous wastes on important system microorganisms.
  10. When washing your car, direct the rinse water away from wetland resource areas and drainage systems.
  11. If you have an underground storage tank for home heating oil, have it tested to ensure it is not leaking through the soil and into the groundwater. Please click here for additional tips for avoiding a heating oil leak or spill provided by MA DEP.
  12. Talk to your neighbor if he/she is inadvertently impacting a resource area
  13. Report violations to the Conservation Department

What activities are prohibited in the 25-foot No-Disturbance Zone?

  • The 25-foot No-Disturbance Zone is also regulated under the North Andover Wetlands Protection Regulations (§ 3.4). No activity is permitted within the 25-feet of the edge of the wetland resource areas, as identified above. Activities include, but are not limited to, grading, landscaping, vegetation clearing, filling, dumping, excavating, and road construction. The North Andover Conservation Commission (NACC) adopted this standard because the alteration of land immediately adjacent to a wetland is likely to result in the alteration of the wetland itself. Alterations typically result from siltation, over grading, deposition of construction debris, unregulated filling, vegetation clearing, extension of lawns, or the depositing of yard waste.

What should I do if I see someone breaking environmental laws such as illegal dumping, fish and game violations or abusing public lands?

  • Do not attempt to deal with any violators yourself, as some violators may engage you in a confrontation. Do call the Conservation Office at 978.688.9530 or the North Andover Police Department at 978.683.3168 to report what you have seen and ask that the Conservation Department investigate the situation. Jot down important information such as motor vehicle license plates, time, date, description of the violator (s) or any information that would be helpful in the apprehension of these lawbreakers.