Conservation seeking 3 new members

Above: The Town is seeking volunteers for the Conservation Commission (image tweeted by @17Common)

The Southborough Conservation Commission asked me to share news that they have two vacancies, and a third pending this summer. They’re looking to drum up volunteers for the slots on the seven seat commission.

Volunteers would be involved in protecting wetlands, regulating stormwater and erosion control, some oversight of properties under Conservation Restrictions and more. Relevant experience is desireable, but training is available for those lacking it. 

Below is their full announcement:

The Conservation Commission is looking for volunteers (2 current vacancies and 1 additional vacancy beginning on July 1, 2022) that would be willing to serve on the Commission who has knowledge, interest, or experience in wetlands protection, stormwater management, and/or natural resource protection & open space.

The Conservation Commission is comprised of seven resident volunteers that enforce and permit residential and commercial work or construction under the MA Wetlands Protection Act, Southborough Wetlands Bylaw, MA Rivers Protection Act, and Southborough Stormwater and Erosion Control Bylaw. The Commission is staffed by a full-time Conservation Agent that conducts the majority of inspections and enforcement and provides guidance to the Commission on applications for discussion at the public hearings.

The Commission typically meets every three (3) weeks on Thursday evenings beginning at 7pm and meetings consist of reviewing, conditioning, and approving projects under the bylaws and state laws listed above, along with monitoring compliance on active construction sites, discussion of open space management, local initiatives for natural resource management, and other topics as necessary.

While experience is not required, we do encourage those with construction, engineering, or natural resource management to apply. Those who do not have experience should be willing to attend new Commissioner ‘training’ offered by the Massachusetts Association of Conservation Commissions (MACC) and spend time with the agent and/or other members to understand processes, rules & regulations, and terminology.

Any questions can be forwarded to the agent, Melissa Danza, at or by calling 508-281-8984. You are also welcome to stop by the Conservation office, now located in the lower level of the Senior Center, 9 Cordaville Road. It is recommended to schedule a time with the agent as the office as recently moved and they are often out of the office conducting inspections.

If you are interested, please fill out a Citizen Activity Form found here:

To learn more about the Conservation Commission, you can check out their section of the Town website here. You can also view past meetings here. (Their next meeting has been rescheduled to April 7th.)

Conservation members are appointed by the Select Board. Before making new appointments to existing committees, the Board traditionally looks for input from that committee in addition to conducting their own interviews.

I wondered if there was some controversy causing members to resign in protest. But at face value, it appears to just be poor timing.

Prior to the Commission’s February, member Sheri Widiss resigned for personal reasons. As part of her message to the Town, she stated:

I have enjoyed my few years on this Commission more than words can say. It has been an honor to work with everyone on the Commission. It has been humbling to see the level of time and commitment all the members put into the Commission, and I have been proud to be a part of that group.

Following the meeting, member Carl Guyer resigned. He didn’t specify his reasons, but stated in his message:

My 10 years as a member of the Commission has been a privilege I will always remember along with my association with everyone associated with the Commission’s duties. Thank you for have given me the opportunity to participate as member of this organization.

I wish everyone the very best in their continued efforts to maintain Southborough as the exceptional community it is.

At the March 10th meeting, Chair Mark Possemato stated that member Judith Watson had informed Danza that she wouldn’t be returning after the end of June*, due to personal plans.

The Commission discussed avenues to get the word out (including this blog). Possemato encouraged members to talk to anyone they knew who was interested in the issues the Commission is responsible for.

Member Benjamin Smith referenced the importance of filling the seats and referenced a “fourth” member had been “threatening” resignation for a couple of years. It turned out to be Russell Gregory, whose term is up this June. Danza said that she had a “hard conversation” with him. Gregory smiled but made no comment.

*More accurately, Possemato said that Watson wouldn’t be “seeking reappointment” at the end of her term in June. But Watson’s term is listed on the Town’s website as through June 2024 and not up for reappointment this summer.

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