Conservation Commission


Cheryl Jolley, Chair

  • Holger Luther
  • Jim Carroll

Dodds Shamroth, Vice-Chair

Jen DiCarlo


Lana Spillman, Conservation Administrator, retired January 31st. 

We welcome her successor, Heidi Gaffney, as Conservation Administrator on February 27th. 

Heidi Gaffney, Conservation Administrator

Ivana Szady, Admin. Assistant

    • Theresa Coffey, Recording Secretary

Senior Assistants:  Mary Sawall, Walter Harmer

Phone: 978-887-1510 

 (to both Administrator and Admin. Assistant)          


Office and Site Visit Hours:

The Administrator frequently is available for signoffs (e.g. Building Permit, BoH soil testing), consultations, etc., Monday through Friday outside of walk-in hours. Please call first.

Walk-in Hours:            9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. Monday and Wednesday

Appointment Hours:   9:00 A.M. - 5:00 P.M. Monday through Thursday


Many questions can be answered by E-mail.

Please E-mail or call if you would like to make an appointment during non-walk-in hours.

Site visits are made by appointment -- please E-mail or call.



Regular Meetings:  Usually the Second and Fourth Wednesdays, 7 P.M., at the Town Library Meeting Room


-- Town Hall North, at 461-Rear Boston Street will be open for business Tuesday, 2/21/17.

-- The meeting scheduled for 2/22/17 has been cancelled.  The next meeting date is 3/8/17.

2017 Meeting Dates & Filing Deadlines Please Note: only one meeting in July, August, andDecember 

Note:  The October 25, 2017 meeting will be at the Proctor School Library.

Meeting Agendas and Minutes

You may call the Conservation Department on the morning of a meeting to get updates (e.g. to learn of requests to continue hearings, etc.).



The Conservation Commission asks that you please contact our office if you have plans for:

-Tree removal and other vegetation clearing

- Installation of an ice rink

- General construction, additions, adding a pool

- Septic system upgrade or repair

- Adding a deck, shed, patio, or gazebo

- Grading or excavation, addition of soil

- New landscaping


Essex County - Drought Warning, as of August 12, 2016

Conservation Commission duties and responsibilities:

The Topsfield Conservation Commission is responsible for the preservation and protection of wetlands, floodplains, water resources, and adjoining land areas in the Town of Topsfield. The following is a list of the interests protected by the Conservation Commission's Bylaw: public and private water supply; groundwater and surface water; flood control; erosion and sedimentation control; storm damage prevention; water quality; water pollution prevention; fisheries; wildlife habitat; and recreation.

The Resource Areas over which the Commission has jurisdiction are as follows: freshwater wetlands; bodies of water; land under water; banks; land within 100 feet of freshwater wetlands, bodies of water, land under water, or banks; riverfront area (within 200 feet of a stream that flows year-round); and land subject to flooding. It is unlawful to remove soil or vegetation from, fill, dredge, build upon, discharge storm or wastewater into, or otherwise alter these areas without a permit.

Much of the Commission's time is spent issuing determinations of wetland resource area boundaries and issuing permits for activities within or near wetland resource areas. Under provisions of the Bylaw and Regulations, environmental violation citations with fines may be issued for several types or violations, including alternations of wetlands resource areas, alternations within 100 feet of such areas without a permit, and failure to comply with the requirements of a permit that has been issued.

The Conservation Commission also acquires, manages and protects land for the conservation of the Town water supply, wetlands, and rare and endangered species.

The Conservation Commission is made up of five volunteer members appointed by the Board of Selectmen. Appointments begin July 1 and end three years later on June 30; they are renewable. 

Laws, Regulations, Policies, and Guidance:

Topsfield General Wetlands Bylaw, Ch. 62

Revised Bylaw Regulations effective 01-01-14

Amended TCC Soil Testing Policy (to include in Riverfront Area), effective April 1, 2013


GREENSCAPES - Topsfield participates:

Massachusetts Climate Action Tool

Summary of Beaver Laws 07-10

Topsfield Conservation Commission Acronyms

In accordance with relevant laws and regulations, Wetland Resource Area Boundaries are are verified only through the applicable review process, including an application to the Conservation Commission.  The presence of wetland flags on a property does not necessarily mean that the boundaries have been verified.

Conservation Informational Resources (prepared by Holger Luther):A Bibliography of Materials Relative to Conservation Topics and Wetlands Protection


VERNAL POOL INFORMATION BROCHURE Brian Gallagher, summer intern





In Your Garden, Choose Plants that Help the Environment,

NY TIMES Article by Douglas W. Tallamy, March 11, 2015 (copy and paste to browser):


Greenscapes  - Beautiful Yards that Protect Our Water

Greenscapes: Reducing Stormwater Runoff

Parker-Ipswich-Essex Rivers Restoration Partnership:

Bring Back the Pollinators -- (link) information about how to help pollinators, including bees.


--There are ways to save on costs other than fees associated with filings for public hearings (RDA, NoI, ANRAD).  For example, abutter notifications may be mailed with Certificates of Mailing rather than the significantly more costly Certified Mailings with return receipts.

--A recorded Order of Conditions (permit for work near/in Resource Areas) is released from the property deed by recording a Certificate of Compliance issued by the Conservation Commission. Find your Order of Conditions at

Please contact the Commission office for details.

--The General Wetlands Bylaw Regulations revision including the new Topsfield Conservation Commission Administrator Permit  (TCCAP) for limited Buffer Zone activity became effective on FEBRUARY 1, 2010. 


TCCAP                      TCCAP Application Form

RDNI and TCCAP applications are 1-page applications with attached sketch/plan, do not require legal notice or abutter notification, and have a Bylaw (only) fee of $75.  RDNIs go before the Commission at a posted meeting; TCCAPs are reviewed and issued by the Conservation Administrator.





ConsCom Meetings

Wednesday, October 25
7:00 pm : Agenda | Details
Wednesday, November 8
7:00 pm : Agenda | Details
Wednesday, November 29
7:00 pm : Agenda | Details
Wednesday, December 13
7:00 pm : Agenda | Details