MassDEP requires project to have an Environmental Impact Report to include shadows
After reviewing the Environmental Notification Form the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) is requiring the developers, Millennium Partners to file an Environmental Impact Report (EIR). Since the project is subject to Article 80 review by the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA), MassDEP encourages them to file a join Draft EIR/ Draft Impact Report (DPIR) that satisfies the requirements of both MEPA and the BPDA.
Matthew A. Beaton, the secretary of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (MassDEP) said that he received comments from the Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport), which expressed concerns regarding the height of the proposed building on airport operations.
Other comments included the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC), the Massachusetts Historical Commission (MHC), and a number of community and non-profit organizations (including Garden Club of Back Bay, Friends of the Public Garden, Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay, Beacon Hill Civic Association, Boston Preservation Alliance, and the Fenway Civic Association), and many residents that expressed concerns about the project’s proposed design and impact upon the surrounding neighborhood, including its potential wind and shadow impacts.
Beaton is requiring the developers to provide information and analysis regarding building height and shadow to disclose potential impacts and response to concerns expressed by State Agencies and other stakeholders.
DEIR will address the project’s consistency with Chapter 362 of the Acts of 1990 and Chapter 384 of the Acts of 1992 regarding the Boston Common and Boston Public Garden respectively (also known as the Shadow Acts).
The DEIR will identify whether legislative approval will be required to provide relief from the Acts and if new legislation is passed the DEIR should identify those efforts and the related review process.
Beaton made note that the State laws which protect the Boston Common and Boston Public Garden from new shadow applies by its terms to approvals by the City of Boston, however it does not address approvals by State Agencies or MEPA. While the MEPA process will serve to disclose potential impacts, the City of Boston through its review and permitting will address the project’s consistency with these laws.
Developers still waiting for FAA guidelines
The Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport) came out in a letter against the proposed height of the building, saying it would interfere with the flight patterns out of Logan International Airport, if exceeding 710 feet above sea level.
It stated that if built it would restrict the existing Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) circle-to-land operations to all runways, reducing the flexibility of Logan FAA Air Traffic Control Tower to manage close-in flights.
Joe Larkin from Millennium Partners said they would comply with the FAA requirements once they are figured out. He stated that the form is very detailed and takes a lot of time to coordinate and notify everyone at the airport who would be impacted by the change.
Larkin said that the process will begin in about 30 days and will take about four months to complete.
BPDA legislation change for Shadow Law still awaiting Boston City Council Approval
Recently, the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) proposed a plan to push legislation that would allow the building to use up the rest of the shadow bank, which is currently reserved for buildings only in the Midtown Cultural District. The Winthrop Square site sits about two blocks away from the designated zone.
The current Shadow Laws created the shadow bank for new buildings in the Midtown Cultural District of one care from which the City can allow developers to withdraw for shadows cast for longer than the two-hour exemption.
Legislation for the shadow bank to be used up by a building outside of the Midtown Cultural District needs to be passed by the Boston City Council and then the by the State to allow the building to move forward.