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H4278 Opens the Door to Biolabs

John Bassett, John Bassett

[John Bassett, Town Meeting Member in Brookline, consulted with the Brookline Town Counsel to determine the impacts of H4278 upon the Town of Brookline. Because of the sentiment of Brookline Town Meeting that research labs should not be allowed in most of the town, provisions dealing with this issue were of particular interest. The following is his report of his findings. – Editor]

September 25, 2005
H4278 Opens the Door to Biolabs
John Bassett

If H4278 passes, all cities and towns will have to allow by special permit research and development uses, including labs and limited manufacturing in all non-residential zoning districts.

H4278 is now before the General Court, and there is a push to pass it quick.

Buried in H4278 and overlooked by many who’ve read it is Section 11:

This is transcribed by me from H4278, dated 7/21/2005. Most of H4278 deals with fast track disposal of State owned land. But Section 11 appears to require that R&D; uses be allowed by Special Permit in all non-residential districts.

“P. 13 Section 11

Zoning Must Provide Special Permits for R&D; Uses.

Section 11. Section 9 of chapter 40A of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2004 Official Edition, is hereby amended by striking out the 15th paragraph and inserting in place thereof the following paragraph:-

Zoning ordinances or by-laws shall also provide that research and development uses, whether of not such uses are currently permitted as a matter of right, may be permitted in any non-residential zoning district upon the issuance of a special permit provided the granting authority finds that such uses do not substantially derogate from the public good. Research and development uses shall include any 1 or more of investigation, development, laboratory and similar research uses and any related office uses and, subject to the following limitations: limited manufacturing uses and uses accessory to any of the foergoing in any field of science.

Special Permits For Limited Manufacturing.

Limited manufacturing shall, subject to the issuance of such special permit, be an allowed use provided that the following requirements are satisfied: (1) such manufacturing activity is related to research uses; (2) no manufacturing activity customarily occurs within 50 feet of a residential district; and (3) substantially all manufacturing activity customarily occurs inside of buildings with any manufactuing activities customarily occuring outside of buildings subject to such conditions as may be imposed in the special permit.”

Town Counsel Jennifer Dopazo has looked at this. We agree that, if passed, it would require Brookline to allow by Special Permit R&D; – including labs and limited manufacturing -in all non-residential districts and that this would be a big change for us. Further, it would be for all towns a big loss of local authority over development.

If H4278 passes as it is now, Brookline will have to allow, by Special Permit, bio labs, possibly with no limit on BSL level, in all non-residential districts.

Most of H4278 allows fast tracked disposal of State owned real property. Rushed or otherwise inappropriate disposal of state-owned land can be considered an impediment to smart growth. That there are only a few state-owned properties in Brookline is beside the point. Brookline functions – smartly or blindly – within a region. There are many state-owned properties in our region.


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