Regulated or Prohibited Activities

Activities that are Regulated and/or Prohibited in Wetlands and Buffer Zones

The general rule for wetlands is "no alteration." This sounds fairly straightforward when we think of activities that obviously change the nature of wetlands, such as dredging or filling or building directly in the wetland.

However, other activities that we may not immediately perceive as "alteration" can be detrimental to the health and function of wetland resources and, therefore, are prohibited in wetlands.

Activities in the buffer zone also fall under Conservation Commission jurisdiction, enabling the Commission to require that steps be taken to minimize the threat of adverse wetland impacts when construction and other work in the upland occurs. In Needham, prohibited or regulated activities include:

  • Changing drainage characteristics, flow patterns, the water table, or water quality
  • Construction of tennis courts, sports courts, swimming pools
  • Construction or expansion of new or existing buildings - including additions such as garages, decks, porches, stairs
  • Demolition of existing buildings and structures
  • Discharging pollutants
  • Dredging
  • Dumping - including brush, leaves, grass clippings, yard waste
  • Erection of structures - including sheds, dock, piers,
  • Excavating
  • Filling
  • Grading
  • Installation of drainage, sewer, or irrigation systems
  • Installation or widening of paved driveways
  • Landscaping - from planting a tree to creating a new lawn or garden
  • Removing vegetation - including natural vegetation such as live or dead trees, shrubs, or groundcover, or the removal of invasive species.

The Permit Application and Review Process

See information for applicants document (PDF) for guidance on the application and permit review process.