AYER — The Conservation Commission may soon issue its first dock license due to state law Chapter 91.
Chapter 91 calls for all docks on great ponds within an Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC) to be licensed. It also states that new docks require a resource management plan.
The deadline to be licensed had been set for mid-December, but as the commission understands it, the deadline has been pushed back by two years.
Commissioner David Bodurtha cautioned against putting the issue off. He said it’s not going away.
It’s a good reason to encourage residents to create pond associations, said Chairman William Daniels. Sandy and Long ponds fall under Chapter 91.
Daniels asked the other commissioners if and when the licensing process should require an applicant to file for a Request for Determination of Applicability (RDA) or a Notice of Intent (NOI). An NOI would require fees and anticipate having an order of conditions.
One of the main variables Daniels is concerned about is creating temporary or permanent docks. He said his idea is that temporary docks might only require an RDA, while permanent structures should require an NOI.
The commission can simply require an RDA, said Tada, since a positive finding of an RDA leads to an NOI.
The commission could invite people to a meeting for informal discussions before they file RDAs, said Daniels, which would save residents who don’t need either type of hearing from paying filing fees.
The commission decided to invite the first applicant in for a discussion.
Also at the commission’s November meeting, Commissioner George Bacon said a recent amendment to state law could allow the commission to hire consultants at the cost of applicants without going through the Board of Selectmen.
The commission decided to hold public hearings on the issue. The hearings will be scheduled after Thanksgiving. — Richard Breyer