I am not able to think clearly enough to write something that makes sense, but if you’ve been following the Chapter 91 issue, this is good news, indeed.
Basically, there is a regulation in Massachusetts that any development in or near tidelands is subject to an additional environmental review.
Earlier this year, the Supreme Judicial Court decided that any land, which could be as much as a mile (or more) from bodies of water, are subject to the regulations.
Meaning projects in neighborhoods such as East Cambridge and Dorchester could be ruled invalid.
Fortunately, the state legislature today passed a law to make it easier for developments to go forward, while protecting the tidelands from any environmental dangers.
See, I told you I couldn’t make sense.
Today the Massachusetts House of Representatives voted 147 to 3 to approve legislation regarding Ch91 Landlocked Tidelands.
This legislation was filed by Governor Patrick in February in an attempt to restore the ability of developers to build in filled, landlocked tidelands without specific Legislative approval for each project after a ruling by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. In July the House and Senate approved different versions of the bill and a Conference Committee was appointed to resolve the differences.
Under this compromise legislation, the Secretary of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EOEEA) will conduct a “public benefit review” for any project geographically located on landlocked tidelands that is required to file an environmental impact report. This review will become part of the public record.
Developers also will be required to assess the impact of a project on public access and groundwater levels if the project is located in previously identified low groundwater level area. EOEEA will establish regulations governing this process which may be combined with the existing environmental reviews.
While the compromise bill will add another layer of review, it will not require every Chapter 91 license to be approved by the Legislature as was originally under consideration.
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