Engineering FAQ's

























How do I obtain a plot plan for my property?

A plot plan is prepared by a professional land surveyor, and typically depicts lot dimensions, survey information, and buildings found on your property.  The Engineering Division has some plot plans from within the Town of Reading.  Plot plans that cannot be found at our office can usually be found at the Middlesex County Registry of Deeds in Cambridge.  You can search their website at


When is my street going to be paved?

The Engineering Division has a prioritized list that is used to determine what year your street is scheduled for paving, pending all necessary funding.  This list was produced by a private consultant and then approved by the Board of Selectmen.  A copy of this list can be viewed in the Engineering Division.  General concerns regarding pothole repairs on your street should be directed to the Department of Public Works Highway Division at (781) 942-9092 Monday thru Friday, between the hours of 7:00 AM and 3:00 PM.


Where on my property are the water and sewer pipes located going into my house?

A copy of your water and sewer service cards, showing the locations of each, can be obtained in the Engineering Division, located in the lower level of Town Hall.


What year was my house built?

Typically, a good indicator, as to when your house was built, is by determining when the water was first introduced onto your property.  The Engineering Division can provide you with this information.  The first water mains in Reading were installed circa 1890.


Can I connect a drain line on my property into the Town’s drainage system?

Yes, but only by a Licensed Drain Layer who is fully insured and bonded with the Town.  Also, the homeowner must fill out a “Drain Release Form” along with a diagram showing where the drain line will be connected, and return them both to the Engineering Division before work can be started.  A list of Licensed Drain Layers for the Town of Reading can be obtained by either going to the “Permits and Applications” section of this website or by stopping by the Engineering Division in the lower level of Town Hall.


How do I request to have the underground utilities on my property marked by Dig Safe prior to any excavation?

Contact Dig Safe at 1-888-DIGSAFE or by visiting their web site at to request a mark out.  After contacting Dig Safe, please contact the Engineering Division to locate any water, sewer, and drainage on your property.  Typically, for non-emergency situations, we require at least 72 hours notice prior to any excavation.  The Engineering Division can be reached at (781) 942-9082, Monday thru Friday, between the hours of 8:30AM and 5:00 PM.


How do I obtain a new house number, or how do I change my current house number?

The Town of Reading Engineering Division has predetermined all of the house numbers for every street in town.  Each 35 feet of street frontage has been given a number, which will be the number belonging to the building included in or embracing that frontage.  If you are interested in obtaining a new address or changing your current address please contact the Town of Reading Engineering Division.


Does the Engineering Division recommend any surveyors?

No. The Engineering Division does not typically recommend any surveyors.  However, a list of surveyors that have previously done work within the Town can be obtained in the Engineering Division office.  In addition to this list, surveyors can also be found in the Yellow Pages section of your telephone book.  


What is the procedure to either widen my existing driveway, or to add an additional driveway on my property?

As stated in the Town of Reading Driveway Rules and Regulations, all proposed driveways or modifications to existing driveways must be submitted for approval to the Department of Public Works Engineering Division.  A sketch of the modification must be submitted indicating all trees, hydrants, poles, etc., as well as the gutter grade, property line grade, and proposed grades in sufficient detail to insure compliance with all Driveway Rules and Regulations.  If the Engineering Division determines that all of the regulations are met, the proposed driveway alterations may be approved.  Any granite curbing removed in the process of making these driveway modifications shall become the property of the Town of Reading.  The Town of Reading Driveway Rules and Regulations can be obtained by either going to the “Driveway Construction and Street Opening” section of this website or by stopping by the Engineering Division in the lower level of Town Hall where a copy may be obtained.


What is storm water?

Storm water is rain water that runs off impervious surfaces such as streets, driveways, parking lots, rooftops, or other tightly packed surfaces.  Impervious surfaces reduce the ability of storm water to be absorbed or infiltrate into the ground.


Why did Town Meeting and the Board of Selectmen vote to establish a storm water enterprise fund (SWEF)?

The Town of Reading is required by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to develop a storm water management plan that reduces the discharge of pollutants to our storm water drain system and water ways.  The Town is required to be in full compliance with the terms of our National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Phase II permit by 2008 to meet federal and state mandates.  The Town established a SWEF to provide a dedicated and adequate source of funding for our storm water management program.


Why is storm water management necessary?

Storm water often contains surface pollutants including petroleum products, soaps, detergents, and lawn fertilizer which eventually empty into the Aberjona, Ipswich, and Saugus rivers.  Effective storm water management also helps reduce flooding and the erosion of river banks.


How is the SWEF fee calculated?

Single and Two-Family properties will be billed at a flat rate.  All other properties will be assessed an annual storm water fee based on the total amount of impervious surface area on the lot, which will be billed quarterly.  Condominium properties will be billed based on the total amount of impervious surface, at a maximum of the single and two-family rate, for each condominium unit.  The amount will appear as a separate charge on your quarterly water and sewer bill.  The fee will be calculated as follows for the following different types of property:


Property Type                                                                   Storm Water Fee


Undeveloped                                                                     No fee


Single & Two-Family Residences                                  Flat fee of $10.00/ quarter or

                                                                                           ($40.00 annually)


Multi-Family, Commercial/ Industrial                            Fee is based on Total Impervious

                                                                                           Surface Area.


How is total impervious surface area determined?

Impervious surface areas were measured using the Town’s mapping system (GIS).  Buildings, driveways, and parking areas, were delineated from aerial photos.  The surface area of these features was calculated and will be assessed at a rate of $40.00/ 3,210 sq. ft. (annually) for multi-family, commercial, and industrial properties.


For what purposes will SWEF fee revenue be used?

Storm water fee revenue will be used to hire two laborers that will perform stream and detention basin maintenance activities.  The SWEF will allow the Department of Public Works to address a backlog of stream and drainage maintenance issues that have not been completed due to staffing and funding limitations.  Storm water fees will also fund capital expenditures for drainage system mapping (GIS layer), illicit discharge detection, and general drainage system infrastructure improvements.


Will  residents be assessed a SWEF fee if their property is located on a private way or on a town accepted street that does not have catch basins or storm drains?

Yes, although a property may be located on a private way or on a town accepted street that does not have catch basins or storm drains, the owner will be assessed a storm water fee since the property still produces runoff into the Town’s storm water system.


Are there certain types of properties that are exempt from the storm water fee?  

The Board of Selectmen approved a rate structure as recommended by the Water, Sewer, and Storm Water Management Advisory Committee that does not provide any exemptions for municipal properties, schools, or properties owned by religious or registered non-profit organizations. Undeveloped property (without impervious surfaces) is the only category of property that will not be assessed a storm water fee.


Has the Town made any provisions for storm water abatements?

Yes, to encourage property owners to minimize the amount of runoff from properties and to reduce the amount of pollutants entering Town waterways, the Town has instituted the following storm water abatement program:


Single and two-family residential

Single and two-family residential properties that install and maintain infiltration systems or other means to reduce runoff will be eligible for an abatement of up to 50% of their total assessment.


Commercial/ Industrial/ Multi-Family

Commercial/ Industrial/ Multi-Family properties that install and maintain state-of-the-art storm water treatment and infiltration systems will be eligible for an abatement up to 50% of their total assessment.


What are some typical storm water devices that qualify for storm water abatements?


Infiltration Chambers

Detention Ponds


What are some typical devices that do NOT qualify for storm water abatements?

Drinking water filtration systems

Rain Barrels

Sump Pumps


Where can I obtain more information or file for an abatement?

Property owners or condominium associations (on behalf of condominium owners) seeking additional information or would like to file for an abatement should contact the Department of Public Works, Engineering Division at (781) 942-9082.  The Abatement Application Form may be obtained through the Town of Reading website at or may be picked up at the Engineering Office at Reading Town Hall, 16 Lowell St.


Is the storm water abatement permanent?

The storm water abatement percentage will only change if the impervious surface area changes.