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Frequently Asked Questions

DEC's Role and Responsibilities

Participating in Public Hearings

DEC's Role and Responsibilities

What does the DEC do?
The DEC acts as the regulatory and permitting authority for the Devens Regional Enterprise Zone. Its role is to administer and enforce the reuse plan, by-laws and regulations within the Devens Enterprise Zone. It functions as a board of health, conservation commission, zoning board of appeals, historic district commission and planning board. Please see Chapter 498, Section 2, the Devens By-Laws and the DEC's Rules and Regulations for a more complete response.

Who appoints the DEC commissioners?
The twelve DEC Commissioners are appointed by the Governor. Six commissioners are nominated by the towns of Ayer, Harvard, and Shirley; the remaining six are nominated by the Governor. The Governor appoints the Chairperson.

Are the DEC commissioners paid?
No. They are volunteers that live or work in Devens and the communities surrounding Devens.

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Participating in Public Hearings

Why attend a public hearing?
It's your opportunity to be heard. A public hearing is the forum for citizen input into a particular development proposal or revisions to DEC regulations. The DEC is legally required to hold public hearings on certain development proposals and on revisions to DEC regulations. The public hearing is the forum for the DEC to consider comments made by a developer, the DEC's consultants, town officials and staff, and citizens (either in written or verbal form). As long as the hearing remains open, new evidence can be presented for review by the DEC. After the hearing is closed, no additional information can be presented to the DEC. Once the hearing is closed, the DEC deliberates on the evidence presented and then votes to deny, approve, or approve with conditions the proposal.

What is a public meeting?
A public meeting is the forum for the DEC commissioners to discuss with one another DEC business matters. Citizens may attend these meetings but may only speak when recognized by the Chairperson during the public participation portion of the meeting.

How do a find out when a public hearing or meeting will be held?
Notices of public hearings are published in local newspapers (Nashoba Publications,) and posted in the Devens Enterprise Commission Offices and the town halls of Ayer, Harvard, Shirley and Lancaster. Public Hearing Notices are also posted with the Secretary of the States Office.

Why did I receive a certified public hearing notice?
The DEC sends certified letters to everyone who owns property abutting or within 300' from the property that is the subject of an application for a land use permit. Therefore, you may receive a written notice but your neighbor may not.

Am I required to attend the public hearing?
No. The most effective way to make your opinion known is to attend the hearing, since the DEC Commissioners have an opportunity to ask you questions (if they need clarification) and you have the opportunity to listen to the developer's presentation. If you are unable to attend the hearing, you can submit comments to the DEC at 33 Andrews Parkway, Devens, MA by mail or during normal business hours (8:30AM-4:30PM Monday-Friday).

How can I obtain a copy of a staff report on a permit application?
Staff reports are generally available five days prior to the public hearing date. Please contact the DEC office at 978-772-8831 or via email, to obtain a copy.

When and where does the DEC hold its meetings? What time do the meetings begin?
The DEC usually holds its hearings in the first floor conference room, 33 Andrews Parkway, Devens, Massachusetts. Usually hearings are held on the last Tuesday of each month at 6:45PM and business meetings are conducted on the first Thursday after the first Tuesday of each month at 7:30AM, or as the schedule allows. Meeting/Public Hearing date, including time and location, is posted in all legal notices and meeting agendas.

How do I get to 33 Andrews Parkway?
33 Andrews Parkway is located on the easterly side of Jackson Road, within the Devens Commons development. It is the office building on the far side of the common with flags in front of it (across from the SpringHill Suites Hotel Conference Center). Parking is available either in front on the street or along the side or in the rear of the building. The handicapped access is in the front of the building with designated parking along the side.

How do I obtain hearing and meeting agendas?
An agenda is posted at the DEC offices and on the Devens website ( ), at least 48 hours before the hearing or meeting.

How do I find out what time a hearing will be held?
The exact time for each public hearing is not established until the night of the hearing. The DEC Chair sets the order of the DEC agenda at the beginning of each meeting, taking into consideration the expected length of the hearing, the number of speakers expected on each application, the preferences of DEC commissioners and staff availability.

How do I get the opportunity to speak at a DEC hearing?
Request permission to speak from the Chair by raising your hand during the public participation portion of the hearing. The Chair will acknowledge you in the order in which hands were raised. Please sign the attendance sheet so your name is properly spelled for purposes of the meeting minutes.

How long may and how often may I speak?
Everyone will be allowed 4 minutes, with the hope that people will use less time. Once you have spoken, you will not be recognized again until everyone who wants to speak has had an opportunity to do so.

If I bring copies of my testimony, how many should I bring?
Please bring sixteen (16) copies - 15 for the Commissioners and one (1) for the DEC records.

Will I be notified if a public hearing is postponed?
Any hearing postponements or continuations will be announced at the meeting. If a date, time and location is not announced at the scheduled meeting, the postponement or continuation will be posted on the meeting room entrance doors and in the DEC offices. The DEC's website will also be updated to reflect the change. You are also encouraged to call the DEC Office at 978-772-8831 to verify the scheduled hearing. Weather cancellations are sent to the local radio stations and cancellations are posted on the entrance doors.

How can I voice my opinion on an application if I am unable to attend the hearing?
Once an application is submitted, but before the hearing is closed, you may submit your written opinion on the pending application by mail to the Devens Enterprise Commission, 33 Andrews Parkway, Devens, MA 01434 or by fax at 978-772-1529.

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