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House No. 847 – Changing the definition of “public purpose”


This legislation changes the definition of “public purpose” to allow a project built in ecologically sensitive coastal areas to qualify for special favors if 25% of the ground floor is for “public accommodation”. 75% of the ground floor and all the upper floors could be private. This would assist developers in avoiding a discussion with the community regarding the public benefits that would result from a development.

Background on the bill’s sponsors:

Michael J. Rodrigues is a state representative (D-Westport). In 2006 he proposed an “expedited permitting” provision to limit the ability of citizens to question waterfront development.

David Begelfer is the CEO of the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties (NAIOP) which calls itself “the leading voice for commercial real estate in the state”.

Christine E. Canavan is a state representative (D-Brockton).
by John Andrews

HOUSE . . . . . . . No. 847
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Michael J. Rodrigues
David Begelfer
Christine E. Canavan
In the Year Two Thousand and Seven.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:

SECTION 1. Section 2 of M.G.L., c. 91 is hereby amended by adding at the end of the first paragraph the following new sentence:

“It shall be responsible for designating and de-designating the boundaries of Designated Port Areas, the review and approval of Municipal Harbor Plans and to make findings regarding consistency with coastal policies”

A nonwater dependent project shall be deemed to serve a proper public purpose if no less than 25% of the ground floor of any proposed buildings located over the water or on filled Commonwealth tidelands, or on filled private tidelands within 100 feet of the project shoreline are set aside exclusively for use as facilities of public accommodation.

Section 2. Within ninety days, the Secretary of the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs shall promulgate regulations and modify existing regulations to transfer the authority of the Office of Coastal Zone Management to issue a finding of consistency with coastal policies for coastal projects, for the review and approval of Municipal Harbor Plans and to designate and de-designate boundaries of Designated Port Areas to the Department of Environmental Protection. Within ninety days, the Department of Environmental Protection shall promulgate regulations to effectuate the provisions of this Act.

Section 3. This Act shall take effect upon its passage.


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