Frequently Asked Questions A to Z

Animals Roads and Highways
Burning Senior Services
Buying and Selling a House Septic Systems
Cable TV Taxes
Cemetery Thrift Shop
Construction Topsfield Fair
Emergency Services Town Hall
In-Law Apartments Trash & Recycling
Licenses, Permits and Certificates Trees
Parks, Recreation and Fitness Water
Pets Voting & Elected Officials
Post Office Web Site

Animals

Beavers have become active on my property. What can I do?

See the Conservation Commission's Guidance for Living with Beavers in Topsfield for information.

Coyotes are roaming around my property. What can I do?
Call the Emergency Center Operator at (978) 887-2116.  The Dispatcher will contact the Animal Control Officer.

What should I do about a sick, injured or disoriented wild animal on my street or property?
Do not approach the animal and be sure to keep your children and pets away.  Call the Emergency Center Operator at (978) 887-2116.  The Dispatcher will contact the appropriate authority.
How do I get a dead animal removed from my street?
Call the Parks & Cemetery Department at (978) 887-1525.
Is hunting allowed in Topsfield?
Chapter XXVIII of the Town Code regulates hunting and trapping in Topsfield.  Written consent from the Board of Selectmen (for Town property) or from the property owner or legal occupant (for private property) is required for hunting, trapping and the discharge of firearms in the Town of Topsfield.  [return to top]

Burning

Is open burning allowed?
Open burning is allowed starting on January 15th and going through April 30th on approved days between the hours of 10 AM and 4 PM with a permit that has been  issued at Fire Headquarters.  The $10 permits are issued at the Topsfield Fire Station on High Street 7 days a week from 6 AM to 6 PM. [return to top]

Buying & Selling a House

I'm preparing to sell my house. What official steps do I need to take?
You will need to have a Title V Certificate indicating that your septic system meets specific requirements for your dwelling.  Contact a company that specializes in septic systems for more details.  You will also need to obtain a Certificate of Compliance (certifying that the proper number of smoke detectors have been installed and are in the proper locations and that the detectors are all in excellent working condition) from the Topsfield Fire Department.  Contact them at their non-emergency number (978) 887-5148 to set up an appointment. [return to top]

Cable TV

Where can I find the local cable channel programming schedule?
The Tri-Town Transcript newspaper carries the weekly Cable TV schedule.  Channel 8 (Comcast) and Channel 47 (Verizon) carry the Cable TV schedule when ever there is not a scheduled program being broadcast.  The Town Website carries the local TV schedule which can be found on the Home Page.
How do I get a notice posted on the Channel 8/47 Cable TV Community Bulletin Board?
Public service announcements are run on Channel 8/47 free of charge for Topsfield, Boxford and Middleton non-profit organizations, government agencies and schools.   Download the necessary form here  or pick one up at Town Hall in the Mail Room on the first floor.  You may also call the Cable Office at (978) 887-1544.  Completed forms can be dropped off or mailed to the Town Hall or faxed to (978) 887-1502.   Forms must be received at least one week prior to the start date. [return to top]

Cemetery

How do I get a plot in the Topsfield Cemetery?
Please refer to the Park and Cemetery Rules and Regulations.
How do I find the location of a grave in the town cemetery?
Check with the Topsfield Town Library or the Park and Cemetery Department. [return to top]

Construction

When do I need a permit before altering my house? What does the town require?
Each home building project is different.  The permits that you will need depend upon the extent of your project and the nature of your property.  Call Inspectional Services at (978) 887-1522 to arrange an appointment with the Building Inspector who will be able to advise you about the permitting process. 
How will I know if I am restricted by conservation rules?
Contact the Conservation Administrator who holds office hours at Town Hall.  The phone number is (978) 887-1510. [return to top]

Emergency Services

What is the contact information for emergency services?
Dial 911 for all emergencies.  For less urgent matters, call the Dispatcher at (978) 887-2116. [return to top]

In-Law Apartments

What are the rules governing in-law apartments?
Article VII, Section 7.03 of the Zoning By-laws provides the rules for accessory apartments. [return to top]

Licenses, Permits and Certificates

Where can I get my child's birth certificate if we lived in Topsfield when he or she was born?
Birth certificates for anyone born in Topsfield are available in Town Hall at the Town Clerk's Office.The phone number is (978) 887-1505.
Where do I go for a dog license?
Dog licenses are issued in the Office of the Town Clerk at Town Hall. Forms are sent out annually along with the town census form.' The phone number is (978) 887-1505. [return to top]

Parks, Recreation and Fitness

Is there public swimming in Topsfield?
Members may swim at Hood's Pond on Route 97 from June through September. Applications for membership (and Red Cross swimming lessons) are available at the Topsfield Library and in Town Hall beginning in March. The phone number is (978) 887-3799.
Where are the parks in Topsfield and for what activities are they designed?
  • KLOCK PARK on North Street has soccer and baseball/softball fields.
  • PYE BROOK COMMUNITY PARK on Haverhill Road (Route 97) has 4 baseball/softball fields, multi-purpose fields used for soccer, football and lacrosse, an equestrian park, a walking trail, a small toddler play area and a disc golf course.
  • PROCTOR SCHOOL on Main Street has baseball/softball fields, a basketball court, 2 tennis courts, and multiple play structures.
  • STEWARD SCHOOL on Perkins Row has a softball field, tennis courts and multiple play structures (for school recess).
  • EMERSON FIELD (owned by the Congregational Church and leased by the Town), located behind the Emerson Center on East Common Street, has multi-purpose fields used for soccer and baseball/softball.
Whom should I contact to register my kids or myself in sports? The web site of the Topsfield Athletic Association, www.taasports.com, will provide information about most athletic programs available in the Tri-Town area. For specific sports, refer to the web site list below:
Are there public basketball or tennis courts?
An outdoor basketball court is located behind the Proctor School on Main Street.  Public tennis courts are located behind both Proctor and Steward Schools. [return to top]

Pets

How do I register my dog?
Dogs should be registered in the Office of the Town Clerk at Town Hall. Forms are sent out annually along with the town census form. The phone number is (978) 887-1505.
Is there a leash law in Topsfield?
There is no leash law in Topsfield. The Canine Control By-law's purpose is to set up procedures to register dogs and to establish rules and regulations for the control of dog complaints caused by nuisance. Animal behavior which constitutes a nuisance includes, but is not limited to the following: molesting passerby or passing vehicles (including bicycles), attacking persons or domestic animals, trespassing on school grounds or other public property, damaging public or private property, barking , whining, or howling in an excessive, continuous, or untimely fashion.
How do I report a lost or abandoned pet on my street or property?
Call the Emergency Center Operator at (978) 887-2116. The Dispatcher will contact the Animal Control Officer. [return to top]

Post Office

What are the Post Office hours of operation?
The Topsfield Post Office at 4 Main Street is open Monday-Friday from 8 AM - 5 PM. On Saturday, the hours are 9 AM - 12 PM PO Boxes are open for extended periods. For more information, call (978) 887-5307.
How do I get a passport in Topsfield?
The Topsfield Post Office at 4 Main Street processes passports. Applications are available during regular business hours, although processing occurs only at specific times, which are published at the Topsfield Post Office. Call (978) 887-5307 for more information. [return to top]

Roads and Highways

Whom do I call to report a pothole or another problem with the road?
Any non-urgent road problems should be reported to the Topsfield Highway Department at (978) 887-1542. More urgent issues should be reported to the Emergency Center Operator at (978) 887-2116. [return to top]

Senior Services

What services are available to seniors?
Many services are available to Topsfield seniors through the Topsfield Council on Aging. Contact the COA Director at (978) 887-1523. Information about complimentary van transportation is available at (978) 887-6866.
Does Meals on Wheels deliver in Topsfield?
Meals on Wheels services are available in Topsfield. Contact the Council on Aging at (978) 887-1523. [return to top]

Septic Systems

 

What is everything a homeowner should know about septic systems?
Most dwellings in Topsfield utilize septic systems to process gray water from appliances and sinks and waste produced in toilets. Homeowners should educate themselves about this critical system by reading the information available at reliable web sites such as www.epa.gov/owm/septic/pubs/homeowner_guide_long.pdf or by contacting a septic system company. [return to top]

Taxes

Can I pay my taxes online?
Yes, follow the link on the home page that will take you to unipay.unibank.com/onlinepaymentcenter/accountinfo.asp?muni=1054&ttid
What is the process for filing for tax abatement?
If a taxpayer is aggrieved by his or her valuation, he or she may appeal to the Board of Assessors by filing an application for abatement during the statutory period. The Town of Topsfield uses the quarterly tax billing system. Thus the appeal period is measured from the date the actual bills are mailed not the preliminary bills. This is usually the third quarter bill issued on or before December 31st of each year, due and payable on or before February 1st. Additional information is available on the back of your tax bill and at the Assessor's website. [return to top]

Thrift Shop

Is there a thrift shop in town?
The Box Top Shop, which is operated by the volunteers of the Topsfield/Boxford Community Club, on 7 School Street features both a thrift shop and a consignment store where treasures are sold to support such groups as VNA Care Network, Elder Health Care program, Scholarships to area schools, Council of Aging, HAWC (Help for abused women and children), Plowshares, Tewksbury State Hospital, and people in need. [return to top]

Topsfield Fair

What is happening at the Topsfield Fairgrounds this weekend?
The Topsfield Fair is held annually by the Essex Agricultural Society, a private non-profit organization. Complete details about all Topsfield Fairground events are available at www.topsfieldfair.org or by calling (978)887-5000. [return to top]

Town Hall

When is Town Hall open?
Regular business hours at Town Hall are Monday-Thursday 8:00 AM- 4:00 PM and on Fridays from 8:00 AM-12:00 PM. The main telephone number is (978) 887-1500. During non-business hours, please call the Emergency Center at (978) 887-2116 to report an urgent problem.
What offices are located in Town Hall?
Selectmen, Community Development, Town Accountant, Assessor, Tax Collector, Inspectional Services, Town Clerk, Conservation Commission, Board of Health Council on Aging.
Where can I learn more about the Clock Tower?
The Keepers of the Clock, Bob Winship and Norm Isler, are happy to share their knowledge of this town treasure. They may be reached through the Selectmen's Office at 978-887-1500.

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Trash & Recycling

My trash or recycling wasn't picked up. Whom do I call?
To report a problem with trash or recycling pick-up, call the Selectmen's office at (978) 887-1500. Remember to have your trash and recycling out by 7 AM on collection day.
When do I need a trash sticker?
Trash Stickers must be used when more than one trash barrel is required. The first trash receptacle that you put at the curb should have affixed an official trash decal that is issued in the Selectmen's Office. Each household is allowed one barrel for waste weekly. A single sticker should be attached to the top item inside additional trash receptacles or 2 stickers are required on bulky items such as mattresses. Stickers may be purchased at Dawson's True Value Hardware in the Topsfield, Village Shopping Centre, at Cumberland Farms on Main Street and at the Essex County Co-op on Route 1 for $2.00/sticker. See the Trash and Recycling page in Services for more information.
How do I get rid of my old appliances and other heavy metals?
Each October and May on the regular trash collection days, the town offers heavy metal curbside pick-up at no charge to residents. Specific details about items eligible for disposal will be provided in the local newspapers in the weeks prior to the collection.
Is there a way to properly dispose of hazardous waste?
Each year in early November, a hazardous waste collection day is offered to Tri-Town (Topsfield, Middleton and Boxford) residents. Local newspapers will announce the date. Click here for eligible items for disposal. Topsfield residents may dispose of motor oil at the Boxford Recycling Center on Spofford Pond Road each Saturday morning.
Is there a public composting facility?
The Topsfield composting site, which is located behind the Public Works Facility building on the northbound side of Route 1 between Route 97 and Ipswich Road, is open to Topsfield residents every Saturday morning from 9 AM to 1 PM beginning April 1st through November 24th. Residents may drop off leaves, brush, branches, and grass clippings only for a $5.00 fee. Leaves and grass clippings must be kept separate from brush and branches. Stumps, logs, and branches larger than 4 inches in diameter may not be brought to the composting site. .Christmas trees (with all decorations removed) may be disposed at the composite site, with dates as indicated on the Public Works webpage: www.topsfieldpublicworks.org. [return to top]

Trees

If I want to take down some trees, whom should I contact?
The tree warden should be contacted before any trees are removed from your property. The phone number is (978) 887-1542.
There's a tree or large branch blocking the street. How do I get it removed?
Contact the Highway Department at (978) 887-1542 or the Emergency Center Operator at (978) 887-2116. [return to top]

Water

My water has an unusual color or odor. Whom would I contact?
Notify the Topsfield Water Department at (978) 887-1517.
Are there any watering restrictions?
Water restrictions will be posted at the borders of the town as well as in the center of town.They will also appear in the local newspapers, on channel 10/47 and on the topsfield.org web site. Please follow all guidelines to help save the Ipswich River.
Where does my water come from?
Most dwellings in Topsfield get their water from the town supply. Those who don't have private wells. [return to top]

Voting & Elected Officials

Where do I register to vote?
In the Town Clerk's Office at Town Hall.
Who are my elected officials?
Please refer to the Phone and E-mail listing on the website. [return to top]

Web Site

How do I get a notice posted on the Town Web Site Community Events calendar?
Public service announcements are posted on this website's Community Calendar for non-profit organizations, government agencies and schools. Download the necessary form here or pick one up at Town Hall just in the Mail Room on the first floor. You may also call the Cable Office at (978) 887-1544. Completed forms can be dropped off or mailed to the Town Hall or faxed to (978) 887-1502. Forms must be received at least one week prior to the start date. [return to top]

Town Calendar

Monday, July 28
7:00 pm : Fence Viewers
7:30 pm : Board of Selectmen
Tuesday, August 5
8:00 pm : Planning Board

Community Events

No Events