The Office of Appeals and Dispute Resolution is responsible for receiving all adjudicatory appeals of the Department's permitting and enforcement decisions, and administers an initial Prescreening Program for these appeals. Prescreening is performed by a Presiding Officer and involves an initial review of appeals for procedural and substantive sufficiency. After that review, the Presiding Officer may order the parties to attend a conference to explore the possibility of settlement and discuss the potential use of alternative dispute resolution methods with the parties. The Presiding Officer may also order the parties make more definite statements in support of their positions and decide certain preliminary motions to define or resolve issues in an appeal, or dismiss a claim for mootness, lack of jurisdiction, lack of prosecution. Prescreening is designed to take no longer than ninety days after the appeal is filed. Unresolved cases after Prescreening is completed are transferred to the Division of Administrative Law Appeals within the Executive Office of Administration and Finance for further proceedings pursuant to M.G.L. c. 30A.
The Office also leads the Department's Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Program and ADR Committee, coordinating dispute resolution services for adjudicatory appeal cases and other matters for the agency. Through the agency's ADR Committee, the Office provides outreach and training for department staff to increase the agency's capacity to use various dispute resolution tools, including mediation, fact-finding and negotiation.
Appeals Background Information & Frequently Asked Questions
- Appeals: Frequently Asked Questions
Questions and answers about the appeals process for MassDEP orders.
- Alternative Dispute Resolution Frequently Asked Questions
Common questions about the Alternative Dispute Resolution process at MassDEP.
New Procedure For Wetland Permit Appeals
The appeal of wetland permits will follow the procedures set out in the Wetlands Protection Act regulations at 310 CMR 10.05(j). This process will continue to include prescreening, pre-filed testimony and prior participation. It represents a practice change for applicants, MassDEP staff and others by establishing a presumptive six-month timeline for a decision and requiring that parties present their full case early in the process.
Reforming the Administrative Appeals Process at MassDEP
A brief report on MassDEP's reforms designed to speed up the resolution of administrative appeals. Results demonstrate considerable improvements since the reforms were implemented.
- Office of Appeals and Dispute Resolution Contacts & Committee Members
Contact information for members of the Office of Appeals and Dispute Resolution as well as a listing of ADR committee members.
The Mediation Process at MassDEP
The term "Alternative Dispute Resolution" (ADR) encompasses a variety of creative processes accepted as "alternatives" to traditional, formal litigation. Common ADR processes used at MassDEP are a) Mediation b) Negotiation c) Facilitation and d) Fact-finding.
- Confidentiality Statute
Mediation is a confidential process according to Massachusetts General Laws Chap. 233, section 23C. This law ensures the confidentiality of all parties in the presence of a qualified mediator participating in the mediation process.
Appeals Regulations and Policies
- 310 CMR 1.00 Adjudicatory Proceeding Regulations
- 310 CMR 2.00 Adopting Administrative Regulations
- Important Regulations Disclaimer
Please be aware that the OFFICIAL versions of all state statutes and regulations (and many of the MassDEP policies) are only available through the State Bookstore or from the Secretary of State's CMR Subscription Service.
- About MassDEP Administrative Decisions
Administrative appeals at MassDEP generate a variety of decisions, including Tentative Decisions, Recommended Final Decisions, and Final Decisions. If a motion for reconsideration is filed, one or more decision deciding the motion will also be issued. Consult 310 CMR 1.01 for more information about these kinds of decisions.
For decisions from MassDEP, the Commissioner of the agency or his or her designee issues Final Decisions. MassDEP's Presiding Officers issue Recommended Final Decisions which the Commissioner may adopt, reject or modify in a Final Decision. These decisions can be found on this website.
For decisions from the Division of Administrative Law Appeals, DALA's Administrative Magistrates issue Recommended Final Decisions for the Commissioner's review. Such Decisions may be adopted rejected or modified in the Commissioner's Final Decision. Administrative Magistrates at DALA also issue some kinds of Final Decisions (authorized by Delegation of Authority to Administrative Law Judges; Management of Adjudicatory Appeals, January 2, 1997) and Commissioner's Directive Concerning Adjudicatory Hearings, April 23, 2004.) Decisions from 2004 to the present issued from DALA are now available on the DALA website.
- 2013 Appeals Decisions
- 2012 Appeals Decisions
- 2011 Appeals Decisions
- 2010 Appeals Decisions
- Commissioner's Directive Concerning Appeals on Water Management Act Registration Renewal Statements, April 14, 2008
- Time Limits and Time-lines for Adjudicatory Appeals, December 29, 2000
- Time Limits and Timeliness for Adjudicatory Appeals, July 7, 1995
- Adjudicatory Proceedings Conducted Pursuant to M.G.L. c. 30A, November 8, 2000
Commentary & Reference Materials
- Filing a Claim for an Adjudicatory Hearing at the Department of Environmental Protection
- The Prehearing Conference as a Settlement Opportunity
- Naming a MassDEP Adjudicatory Appeal
- Dispositive Motions in MassDEP Adjudicatory Appeals
- Evidentiary Issues in Administrative Hearings: Hearsay, Expert Testimony and Prior Proceedings
- Opinion Evidence: An Overview
- Opinion Testimony in Department of Environmental Protection Adjudicatory Appeals: Some Examples