Boston’s Beefed Up Wetlands Ordinance Will Limit Development

By Peter Fabris | January 6, 2020
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The City of Boston recently adopted a new wetlands ordinance that will protect wetland areas and direct the city’s conservation commission to consider climate change when it evaluates project proposals. The Local Wetlands Ordinance is stricter than statewide standards. In the past, the Conservation Commission followed only the Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act, which requires that any work proposed in wetlands or within 100 feet of one be reviewed.

The new ordinance protects isolated vegetated wetlands, vernal pools, and vernal pool habitat. It also establishes a waterfront area buffer zone, and allows for the implementation of the Mayor’s Resilient Boston Harbor Plan. The commission may develop standards for projects in the floodplain to ensure future residents are protected from flooding, and the commission must now consider sea level rise and climate resiliency in reviewing applications and in developing performance standards.

In addition, the new law allows for the creation of Flood Resilience Zones expected to be aligned with the Boston Planning and Development Agency’s flood overlay district. Proposals in these zones will require a permit from the conservation commission.

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