Monday, February 14, 2022

MA Law & Climate Resiliency In The Neighborhood

In 2021, Governor Baker Signed Climate Legislation to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Protect Environmental Justice Communities | In a related move, Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) office made regulatory changes resulting in environmental justice protocols regarding public involvement and project analysis effective January 1, 2022 for Environmental Project Notification (ENF) filings. 

Last week, Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) held a Climate Resiliency Stakeholder Outreach Meeting to consider regulatory revisions MA General Law Chapter 91 in response to climate change.

MassDEP Waterways Program is responsible for ensuring public access and the provisions of public benefits in exchange for private use and development of tidelands. Commonwealth tidelands belong to the public. The law requires 50% open space and 75% Facilities of Public Accommodation (FPA) on the ground floor. The Harborwalk is an example of providing public access. FPA or Chapter 91 interior spaces are required for non-water dependent use of waterfront property.  Most well known South Boston waterfront examples are the Institute of Contemporary Art and Grubstreet. FPA spaces can include civic and cultural spaces and restaurants or any spaces that provide goods or services that are open to the public. The current 244 - 284 A Street development along the Fort Point Channel is under Chapter 91 jurisdiction. Next City (BPDA) 244 - 284 A St. Public Meeting is February 15 at 6pm.  

MassDEP February 9, 2022 virtual public stakeholder meeting materials are now available*.

* A meeting summary is forthcoming.

The proposed changes to Chapter 91 regulations focus on the following near term topics and sections:

Engineering and Construction Standards- 9.37
Building Height Provision- 9.51
Expiration & Renewals – 9.25
Simplified Licenses- 9.10 
Expanded License Terms- 9.15
Minor Project Modifications* -9.22
Definition: (Coastal High Hazard)- 9.02 

* Note: Minor modifications are not subject to public review. 

Please send comments on the above near term proposed Waterways climate resilient regulatory changes and any longer-term approaches to with the subject line: Chapter 91 / Resiliency.  Comment deadline is February 25th.  

An additional resource for consideration is CLF's Climate Change and the Massachusetts Public Waterfront Act (Chapter 91).

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