NAIOP ADVOCACY ALERT: Climate Bill Enacted; BPDA Implements DEI Policy; New Zoning Rules for MBTA Communities Released
GOVERNOR BAKER SIGNS CLIMATE BILL
This afternoon, Governor Baker signed An Act Driving Clean Energy and Offshore Wind.
Throughout the legislative process, NAIOP was pleased to see both the Baker-Polito Administration and the Legislature recognized the industry's concerns with language in the bill allowing the Department of Energy Resources to approve a ban on new fossil fuel connections in ten municipalities in the Commonwealth with home rule petitions seeking to ban fossil fuel hook ups in all new construction and major renovations. The communities with currently pending home rule petitions are:
- West Tisbury
While the Legislature rejected Governor Baker's amendments to protect multifamily housing production in these communities and to require grid composition targets before implementation, in direct response to NAIOP's advocacy and the work of so many members who reached out, the Legislature included a provision exempting lab and medical space development from the fossil fuel bans. The language states "provided, that said restrictions and prohibitions shall not apply to research laboratories for scientific or medical research, or to hospitals or medical offices regulated by the department of public health as a health care facility." NAIOP is grateful to House and Senate Leadership for their recognition of the technological difficulties associated with 100% electric lab development, and their commitment to protecting this vital industry in the Commonwealth.
The Legislature also retained language requiring affordability thresholds or minimum multifamily zoning requirements to be met before a community could be approved for inclusion in the program. Additionally, the Legislature empowered the Department of Energy Resources (DOER) to consider writing and promulgating regulations associated with the fossil fuel bans. NAIOP plans to advocate for DOER to engage in a rulemaking process so that these provisions can be implemented thoughtfully and consistently with DOER's critical expertise and input.
The final bill also establishes a state-wide building energy reporting program, and requires the utilities to report any electric, gas or steam usage for buildings over 20,000 square feet. Under this provision, building owners "shall not be required to report energy ordered, delivered and charged directly to a tenant if the owner sends a written request for energy use information to the tenant not later than April 30 of the same year." This language will go into effect on July 1, 2024. At that time, the Department of Energy Resources will be required to engage in a regulatory process to meet the demands of the section - to be implemented by July 1, 2025. NAIOP is also grateful to both the Baker-Polito Administration and the Legislature for including a technical amendment put forward by NAIOP to subsection (i) of these provisions. Implementation of this bill will be critical to ensure a practical, achievable decarbonization plan for the Commonwealth. NAIOP will be engaging throughout the relevant regulatory processes to ensure industry input is represented.
BPDA BOARD VOTES TO ADOPT DEI POLICY
Tonight, August 11, the Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA) Board of Directors plans to vote to adopt a new policy introducing diversity, equity and inclusion into the review process for large projects in the City of Boston. This policy requests that proponents disclose diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) plans for large projects when they are filed with the BPDA through Article 80. The agency believes this proposed policy would be the first of its kind in the country. NAIOP is committed to advancing diversity and inclusion within CRE. We look forward to working with the BPDA to achieve these laudable goals and to ensure a robust workforce exists to create diverse development teams.
MBTA COMMUNITIES MULTI-FAMILY ZONING GUIDANCE RELEASED
Earlier this week, the Baker-Polito Administration released the final guidelines for MBTA Communities as required by the new section 3A of the Zoning Act.
NAIOP was proud to be a member of the coalition that worked to pass Housing Choice at the end of the 2020/2021 Legislative Session, and to participate in the working group convened by the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development to discuss how best to implement Section 3A, which requires that an MBTA community shall have at least one zoning district of reasonable size in which multi-family housing is permitted as of right and meets other criteria set forth in the statute:
- Minimum gross density of 15 units per acre
- Located not more than 0.5 miles from a commuter rail station, subway station, ferry terminal or bus station, if applicable
- No age restrictions and suitable for families with children
NAIOP is strongly supportive of the new guidance. We look forward to our members working with these communities to bring critical new housing online while advancing transit-oriented development.