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  • PART I ADMINISTRATION OF THE GOVERNMENT
  • TITLE XIV PUBLIC WAYS AND WORKS
  • CHAPTER 91 WATERWAYS
  • Section 18C Noncommercial small-scale docks, piers and similar structures accessory to residential use; issuance of general license; applicability of other laws to projects subject to general license

Section 18C. (a) Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, the department may issue a general license authorizing noncommercial small-scale docks, piers and similar structures that are accessory to a residential use, but not marinas or large-scale docks, piers or similar structures, in tidelands, great ponds, rivers and streams, otherwise subject to individual licensing under sections 12, 12A, 13, 14, 18 and 19. Projects that extend beyond harbor lines or are within areas of critical environmental concern to the commonwealth shall not be eligible for a general license under this section. The department may consider the cumulative impacts of docks, piers and similar structures in a geographic area in determining whether a project is appropriate for coverage under a general license. The licensee shall comply with all general license performance standards to be issued as regulations by the department and any additional concerns specified by the department pursuant to the general license. A proponent of a project eligible for a general license under this section shall certify compliance with its terms and conditions to the department and shall pay all applicable fees required by this chapter before beginning construction. The department shall perform annual audits to monitor compliance with the general license requirements of this section.

(b) The first 2 paragraphs of section 18 shall not apply to projects subject to a general license; provided, however, that upon or prior to applying for a license pursuant to this section, the project proponent shall submit to the planning board of the city or town where the work is to be performed a statement of the proposed use, the location, dimensions and limits and mode of work to be performed. The planning board may, within 45 days after receipt of the statement, submit a written opinion to the department that the project does not comply with the general license standards set forth in this section and recommend that the project be subject to individual licensing, as applicable, under said sections 12, 12A, 13, 14, 18 and 19. The department shall not issue a general license under this section if a planning board recommends that the project be subject to individual licensing. The department may issue a general license after the expiration of 45 days without local planning board comment or upon receiving notification from the local planning board that it does not oppose the project’s eligibility for a general license.

(c) The first sentence of the third paragraph of said section 18 shall not apply to projects subject to a general license; provided, however, that the project proponent shall specify by metes, bounds and otherwise the location, dimensions and limits and mode of performing the work in its certification to the department.

(d) The second sentence of said third paragraph of said section 18 shall not apply to a project subject to a general license; provided, however, that any changes in use or structural alteration of a licensed structure or fill, whether the structure or fill first was licensed before, on or after the effective date of this section, shall require a new certification to the department and submission to the planning board in accordance with subsection (b) for projects eligible for a general license, or a license for structures which are ineligible for the general license, in accordance with the provisions and procedures established in this chapter and the general license.

(e) The sixth paragraph of said section 18 shall not apply to a project subject to a general license; provided, however, that upon or prior to applying for a general license under this section, the project proponent shall give notice to the selectmen of the town or the mayor of the city and the conservation commission of the town or city where the work is to be performed and shall publish, at the expense of the proponent, the notice at the same time in a newspaper or newspapers having a circulation in the area affected by the project.

(f) The seventh and eighth paragraphs of said section 18, regarding public and adjudicatory hearings, shall not apply to a project subject to a general license.

(g) The ninth paragraph of said section 18 regarding recordation shall not apply to a project subject to a general license; provided, however, that the project proponent shall submit a plan of the work or structure to the department in its certification. The general license for these projects shall be void unless, within 60 days after certification, the certification and the accompanying plan are recorded in the registry of deeds for the county or district wherein the work is to be performed. Work or change in use shall not commence until the certification is recorded and the department has received notification of the recordation.

(h) The tenth paragraph of said section 18 regarding zoning approval shall not apply to a project subject to a general license; provided, however, that the project proponent shall submit a certification by the clerk of the affected cities or towns that the work to be performed or change in use is not in violation of local zoning ordinances and by-laws, in its certification to the department.

(i) The eleventh paragraph of said section 18, regarding assessments for tidewater displacement and occupation of commonwealth tidelands, shall not apply to projects subject to a general license; provided, however, that these assessments shall be paid by the project proponent in its certification to the department.

(j) Section 20 shall not apply to projects subject to a general license; provided, however, that the project proponent shall submit to the department plans of any proposed work to be performed and a copy of any legislative grant in its certification to the department.

(k) The department shall adopt regulations to implement this section. The regulations shall protect and preserve any rights held by the commonwealth in trust for the public to use tidelands, great ponds and other waterways for lawful purposes and public rights of access on private tidelands, great ponds and other waterways for any lawful use.