Laws, Regs, and Bylaws


Conservation Commission Act

(MGL Chapter 40 section 8C)

 The Massachusetts Conservation Commission Act gives communities the option to establish Conservation Commissions to advocate for the natural environment, prepare conservation plans, and acquire and manage conservation lands. Enacted in 1957.

Wetlands Protection Act (WPA)

M.G.L. Chapter 131 Section 40

Wetlands Protection Act Regulations

310 CMR 10.00

These regulations ‘flesh out’ the WPA and establish detailed procedures for conservation commissions and MassDEP to follow in issuing permits for work in areas protected under the Wetlands Protection Act. (On

The WPA 310 CMR regulations are in three main sections (nicely organized and clickable from also provides appendices that include the prefaces to prior revisions of the regulations that are often valuable for guidance.

Richmond’s Local Wetlands Bylaws

The local wetlands bylaws provide localized provisions that strengthen and extend the statewide WPA regulations. Click here for Forms for RDAs and NOIs.

Scenic Mountain Act (SMA)

MGL Chapter131 Section 39a on

Richmond’s Local Scenic Mountain Act Bylaws
Richmond’s Current Main Bylaw and Zoning Bylaw
Richmond’s Historical Zoning Documents

The story of our zoning laws here in Richmond Massachusetts began during the early 1950s; and then later, spurred by new ‘Zoning Act’ legislation and rulemaking at the statewide level, underwent a complete makeover. Hence, there are two distinct periods in the zoning history. The first is the development and adoption of a ‘Protective Bylaw’ in 1954. The second is the replacement of the original Protective Bylaw by a new ‘Zoning By-law’ in 1978.  Both bylaws were/are subject to frequent amendments and additions. The complete timeline is the first document below, followed by other zoning history source documents.

Article 97 Protection

Article 97 (XCVII) of the Articles of Amendment to the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts can provide permanent protection to lands held by towns or municipalities. Land may be protected at the time of acquisition or by a subsequent clear and unequivocal dedication to a conservation purpose. The dedication requires approval by a vote by a town’s legislative body. In Richmond, the ‘legislative body’ is the town meeting.

Chapters 61 for Forestlands, 61A for Agricultural Land and 61B for Recreational Land
‘Current use programs’ — give tax breaks to landowners who maintain their property as open space for timber production, agriculture or recreation. Gives some rights to first refusal to town to purchase the land if he land is going to be sold or upon a change of use.
Massachusetts Endangered Species Act (MESA)

The Massachusetts Endangered Species Act (MESA) was enacted in December 1990 (M.G.L c.131A).  

Implementing regulations were promulgated in 1992 and most recently revised and implemented as of January 10, 2020 (321 CMR 10.00).

The Massachusetts Endangered Species Act and its implementing regulations

Take is defined as the following:

  • In reference to animals, means to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, hound, kill, trap, capture, collect, process, disrupt the nesting, breeding, feeding or migratory activity or attempt to engage in any such conduct, or to assist such conduct. Disruption of nesting, breeding, feeding or migratory activity may result from, but is not limited to, the modification, degradation or destruction of Habitat.
  • In reference to plants, means to collect, pick, kill, transplant, cut or process or attempt to engage or to assist in any such conduct. 


Scroll to Top