December 2017 Government Affairs Update
COASTAL A MAPS RELEASED - COMMENT PERIOD EXTENDED
The Baker Administration (EEA) has submitted language to the Board of Building Regulations & Standards (BBRS) that would modify the statewide building code by adopting Coastal A Zone maps. The BBRS reviewed the language at its public hearing on November 14. At the hearing, representatives from the Office of Coastal Zone Management said that no properties in Boston would be mapped as Coastal A zones, but that other coastal communities would be affected. If adopted, the Coastal A Zone maps would take effect on July 1, 2018.
We have received strong feedback from members on this issue. Given the dramatic impact it will have on mapped properties, NAIOP requested an extension of the comment period and it was granted. The comment period now closes on January 5.
Two years ago, NAIOP successfully pushed to have the Coastal A Zone language removed from the draft 9th edition of the building code because the maps had not been finalized or adopted by FEMA. (Furthermore, no one had seen the maps so it was unclear what properties would have been included.) Since then, as expected, the maps have been revised, finalized and adopted by FEMA. They can be viewed here. Members are encouraged to take a look at the maps by following these directions. Searches can be done by town or by specific address. In addition, an unofficial map developed by CZM provides a quick overview of mapped areas in Massachusetts.
If a town or property owner wants to appeal the map, it can request a letter of map revision from FEMA. The use restrictions in Coastal A zones mirror those of V zones (i.e., no underground uses including parking in residential or commercial properties) and would only apply to new construction or significant renovations.
Please take some time to review the maps and the related documents and get back to Tamara Small with your thoughts ASAP (ideally prior to December 15).
BUILDING CODE UPDATE: CONCURRENCY PERIOD UNTIL JANUARY 1; AMENDMENTS MANDATING EV PARKING TO BE VOTED ON BY BBRS
SENATE PASSES CLIMATE CHANGE BILL: PROBLEMATIC LANGUAGE AFFECTING FUTURE REAL ESTATE DEVELOPMENT INCLUDED
Earlier this month the Senate passed the climate change bill (S.2196), as it did during the last legislative session (where the bill then died in the House). While NAIOP supports planning for climate change and was supportive of Governor Baker’s Executive Order 569 - which does many of the same things - certain aspects of the bill go far beyond planning and create tremendous uncertainty for any future real estate development.
Section 2(a) of the bill states that upon the adoption of a comprehensive adaptation management plan, “certificates, licenses, permits, authorizations, grants, financial obligations, projects, actions and approvals for proposed projects, uses or activities in and by a state agency or state authority shall be consistent, to the maximum extent practicable, with the plan.” There is no question this requirement would create significant confusion and have far reaching impacts. Under that language, it would appear that every certificate or permit issued by any regulatory agency could potentially be challenged on the grounds that it did not conform to the (yet to be developed) plan. It is also unclear who or how one would determine the “maximum extent practicable.” Clearly, this language could be extremely problematic and would encourage frivolous lawsuits and delays.
NAIOP supported an amendment filed by Senator Michael Rodrigues that would have eliminated this language. Unfortunately, the bill was passed by the Senate without the adoption of any amendments. It now moves to the House where NAIOP will once again lobby lawmakers on some of the negative consequences associated with the bill.
MASSDOT AND EEA HOST TRANSPORTATION SECTOR EMISSIONS LISTENING SESSIONS: INPUT DUE BY END OF YEAR
Throughout the fall, MassDOT and EEA have been holding listening sessions across the state designed to seek feedback on how the Commonwealth can reduce transportation sector emissions. Progress to date on emissions reductions (as required under the Global Warming Solutions Act) has been largely driven by reductions in the power sector, with the transportation sector now representing the largest share of statewide emissions. While Massachusetts has a number of policies in the Clean Energy and Climate Plan for 2020 that reduce transportation emissions, the Baker-Polito Administration believes further reduction is needed to position the Commonwealth to meet the GWSA emission reduction goal for 2050 of 80 percent reductions.
The public listening sessions for stakeholders will cover strategies to:
What do you think? If you have ideas you would like NAIOP to share with the Administration, please send them to Tamara by December 20 so they can be included in NAIOP’s comment letter.
NAIOP GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS ADVOCACY: LEARN MORE, GET INVOLVED
Interested in NAIOP’s government affairs agenda? Check out the Member-Only Top Issues section of the NAIOP web site for issue briefs, comment letters, and additional resources. Would you like to get involved in shaping NAIOP’s advocacy efforts? We value your input! NAIOP’s government affairs committees are a great way to stay informed on the important issues affecting the industry. Due to security restrictions, you must RSVP to attend any upcoming meetings. New members are welcome (and encouraged)! Contact Tamara Small, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs, at (781) 453-6900 ext. 5 for more information.