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How to get a wetlands permit

If your project is subject to the Wetlands Protection Act, you must apply for a permit. Here’s how to apply for one.

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Give these documents to the City and State

You need to file these forms with our commission and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection:

Notice of Intent

This describes your project and how it might affect the wetlands. You can learn more about the Notice of Intent on the state’s website.

If you are planning work in a wetland that is covered under the Boston Wetlands Ordinance, you will need to submit our local application form as part of your Notice of Intent. 

Project plans

You'll need to submit copies of your project plans to the City and state. Maps and plans must display two things:

1. You need to show the condition of the existing and proposed project sites. This should include temporary measures, effects from construction, or any work planned to lessen the impact of construction.
2. You also need to show what types of activities will take place, and where they'll be located. Make sure to show where the activities are in relation to the wetlands boundaries.

Your plans also need to meet certain design standards:

  • Drawings should have the name of the project, location, people preparing the project, date, and should be stamped by an engineer.
  • The ratio scales used on plans should have one inch equal 10 feetone inch equal 20 feet, or one inch equal 40 feet.
  • You can reduce the plan size to meet the 11 inch by 17 inch submission requirement. We may also ask you to give us additional plans with better detail.

Make sure your plans include:

  • All property boundaries according to the most recent information from the Assessing Department.
  • All existing natural and manmade features. This includes tree lines and rocksfences and foot pathsoverhead and underground utilities, and drainage structures.
  • The elevation of all drainage structures, waterways, and wetlands.
  • Wetland resource areas — including the 100-foot buffer zone. Include the flag numbers within those areas.
  • 100-year flood elevations, as determined by FEMA. If you can't get this information, you'll need an estimate from a registered engineer.  
  • Calculations showing the full-flow capacity and velocity of water courses, channels, and storm drains.
  • An 8 ½ inch by 11 inch photocopy of the US Geological Survey of the area. This should be a topographic quadrangle that show the location of the project.
Project description

You need to give us a narrative for your project. This should cover what types of construction will take place, and the condition of the site when the project is finished. You must also point out the wetland areas, how your project will meet protection standards, and a consideration of the effect that projected sea level rise, changes in storm intensity and frequency, and other consequences of climate change may have on the resource areas and proposed activities.

Abutter notification

You must also tell abutting property owners within 300 feet of your property line about the project. You'll need to notify them at least 7 days prior to the hearing by certified mail or hand-deliver the notice before sending us your documents. You can find abutting property owners at the City’s Assessing Department.  

The notice should include a description of your project and information about any public hearings about your project. We have put together a template for you to use.


Get any additional information

These documents are less common, but you may need them:

Make sure to check our filing checklist for all of the documents you might need to submit. 


Make copies of your information

The City needs two hard copies of your documents — one signed original and one copy. We also need one electronic copy, which you can sent to us by email or a Cloud link.


Prepare for City and state fees

You need to pay a fee when you submit your application to our commission. Our fees are:

  • $25 for projects that cost $1,000 or less
  • $50 for projects that cost between $1,000 - $50,000
  • $75 for projects that cost between $50,000 - $100,000, and
  • .075% of the cost for projects that are more than $100,000. The most we will charge you is $1,500.

You may also need to pay state fees, which are paid separately when you file with them.  


File your documents with the City

Make sure your documents are signed by all property owners involved with the project. Get everything to us two weeks before the next scheduled hearing date of our commission.

We need the two hard copies of your application along with the one electronic copy. You can email electronic copies to or give us a cloud link to download. 

You can bring the two hard copies of your application, or mail everything, to:

Boston Conservation Commission
1 City Hall Square, Room 709
Boston, MA 02201


File your documents with the State

You'll also need to submit your proposal to the state. You can file with them through their online system. Don't forget to pay them any fees.


Look for the next scheduled hearing

Once we get your application, you'll need to attend one or more hearings with us. Hearings are on the first and third Wednesdays of every month. You can find the hearing scheduled in the Boston Herald and on the City's public notices page.

If you get everything to us two weeks before our next scheduled hearing date, your first hearing will fall on that date. If you miss the two-week window, your first public hearing will take place on the following date.


Go to the public hearings

The following people must attend any hearings:

  • the project proponent (if it’s not you)
  • the property owner (if it’s not you), and
  • your consultant.

We'll let you know if we approved or denied your permit after the hearing.   

Need to Know:

Have questions? Contact us:

BOSTON, MA 02201

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