Fast Track permitting in economic stimulus bill

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Fast Track permitting in economic stimulus bill

Postby LowellTech on Fri Nov 14, 2003 12:25 am

The Economic Stimulus Bill - which must pass by November 19th - includes Chapter 43D which allows the creation of a local land use authority for FAST TRACK permitting.

A portion of a recent Lowell Sun article with info on members of House-Senate conference committee on this Bill follows. The Bill details are included after the Sun article.

Lowell Sun; Tuesday, November 11, 2003 -

BOSTON With little more than a week to go before formal sessions end for the year, lawmakers are under the gun to pass a series of legislative measures, including a $115 million economic stimulus package to create jobs and boost the state's economic recovery.

Sen. Steven C. Panagiotakos, a Lowell Democrat and vice-chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, was appointed yesterday to co-chair a House-Senate conference committee that will negotiate a compromise jobs bill.

Lawmakers must pass the bill before Nov. 19, when formal sessions end, or risk starting from scratch in 2004.

Panagiotakos said he is optimistic the conference committee can hammer out the details of a comprehensive bill to boost the economy in a week's time. The major hurdle to overcome is the source of funding, he said.

In addition to Panagiotakos, Sen. Bruce E. Tarr, a Gloucester Republican who represents Wilmington, and Sen. Linda J. Melconian, a Springfield Democrat, will serve on the conference committee.

Rep. Peter J. Larkin, a Pittsfield Democrat, will chair the House side of the panel. Rep. Brian Dempsey, a Haverhill Democrat, and Rep. John Lepper, an Attleboro Republican, will also serve.

Bill Summary: This legislation would insert a new chapter in the General Laws authorizing cities and towns which accept its provisions to establish a process for "streamline" permitting of certain activities and projects that currently are reviewed by separate boards and committees. Some of the powers and duties currently performed by separate city and town offices and boards could be transferred to a single entity having broad power to promulgate and then implement new regulations in order to carry out this purpose. Such centralized boards would interact with applicants, other city or town offices, state or federal agencies.

A majority vote of a city council and mayor (plan A, B, or F charter), majority vote of a city council alone (plan C, D or E), majority vote of an annual or special town meeting (in a town with a town meeting form of government), or a majority vote of the town council, would be sufficient for acceptance. Certain sections of the bill would have to be adopted together.

Section 2 of the bill defines common terms used, and exempts certain types of approvals from the definition of "permit" such as those granted by the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, or the licensing of professionals or state agencies.

Within 6 months following acceptance of the act, a city or town would be required to amend rules and regulations on permit issuance and adopt any guidelines necessary to conform with the act. Technical review teams could be used to examine applications.

A city or town would have the option, if they accept Section 3 (c), of establishing or designating a single person or office to coordinate the process of reviewing permits, and consult with other boards having jurisdiction over various aspects of the application.
A municipality would be required to establish a procedure for coordinated review of permits required for a project and, if applicable, coordinate with state review of such projects. The jurisdictional authority of existing boards would still be substantially preserved, according to the bill language.

The municipal office of permit coordination would establish a procedure to determine which applications require pre-development reviews, scoping sessions, public comment periods or public hearings, the need for additional information, and whether a proposal may involve an abutting city or town, using a standard form which has been completed by the applicant.

The legislation includes deadlines for notifying the applicant of actions, the submission of material by the applicant, and for acting on the application itself. It requires the municipality to establish certain timelines for performing actions, and limits such deadlines to no more than 90 days for reviews not requiring public hearings, or 120 days for reviews which do require public hearings.

An applicant could seek judicial relief if the municipality failed to act within the time period which had been established; deadlines could be extended if another local, state or federal agency had to take action on the application, or if the issuing authority receives information that may affect their decision.

The bill also allows a city or town to establish an informal review procedure whereby an applicant could request a review of the application by a technical review team, to resolve certain legal issues that may be in dispute.

A municipal office of permit coordination could impose fees in accordance with MGL Chapter 53G to hire outside consultants in order to review applications.

Other items in the bill include: - certain types of permits would be transferable between persons

- permit renewals would be governed by the same procedures, unless issuing authorities developed a streamlined renewal process

- a procedure for modifying permits

- new permits would be valid for two (2) years from the expiration of the applicable appeal period, but a permit could lapse if work ceases for more than six (6) months.

- Fast Track Development Sites are allowed for properties that are zoned commercial or industrial and has a total building interior size of 90,000 square feet or larger. Other properties could be designated as such if the Massachusetts Office of Business Development agrees. The bill contains procedures and timelines for handling such applications. Fast track project permits would be valid for five (5) years.
- A city or town which accepts the act could also adopt a section establishing a so-called land use board in the municipality. The board, comprised of both elected and appointed members, would develop regulations to implement General Laws relating to zoning, subdivision control, historic preservation, and conservation commission powers. This land use board would administer and enforce the regulations that are adopted, exercising the powers of a special permit granting authority (except for zoning appeals), certain powers of a planning board, powers of a conservation commission as relates to the Wetlands Protection Act, boards of health, and historic district commissions.
- Elected officials and employees of an office or agency performing a function that is transferred to or assumed by a land use board would be transferred to the board without loss or reduction in compensation, status, rights or benefits. All property and money under control of an office affected by such a consolidation, would be transferred to the new board.

- The new board would assume all contracts and legal obligations of the former office or agency.
- The bill also includes a severability clause. See the full text of House Bill 795 online at:
See of the full text of Senate Bill 2127 online at:
Section 20 of this Bill concerns expedited permitting.
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Fast Track permitting in economic stimulus bill

Postby Nickolas on Sun Nov 16, 2003 7:50 am

Don't care what our politicians are calling this bill, it sounds as bad as 40B. Hope everyone reading this site takes a long hard look at this one. We still have a Town Meeting and an elected Planning Board. So if this comes in at Town Meeting I will definitly be against it. Talk about a corrupt law. The deals that will be made behind closed doors. Then take a look at whose name leads the charge for this. Not going to tell you, just click on the link. His name comes right up. Suprise, suprise, suprise. One of the supporters of the Mills Mall.
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Fast Track permitting in economic stimulus bill

Postby LowellTech on Sun Nov 16, 2003 11:44 am

Even worse than this is the recently released report from the Commonwealth Housing Task Force (CHTF) which seeks to create new legislation to implement high-density "Smart Growth Overlay Districts" (20 multi-family or 8 single family units per acre). According to the report, cities/towns would receive bonus payments once they approve the overlay district(s). CHTF proposes to entice cities/towns to support this by providing full payments for school for K-12 school children within the districts. According to the CHTF, funding will come from the sale of state-owned land/buildings and taxes from the overlay developments.

Read the full report at the Boston Foundation web site:

The report was delivered during a press conference in Boston last week. Joint Housing and Urban Development Committee co-chairs (Rep. Kevin Honan and Sen. Harriette Chandler) were so excited about the report that they invited the CHTF to to brief the committee and other legislators on it at a public hearing at the State House last Thursday. Honan called the report "a wonderful concept". Chandler (D-Worcester) said she was "very enthused" about "making it a reality." This is the same legislative committee reviewing/recommending changes to 40B.

The CHTF had a packed room for this presentation, with legislators smiling and nodding throughout. Chandler was only at the briefing momentarily. Honan was there for the entire briefing and was most enthusiastic...absolutely gushing with enthusiasm for CHTF members and the report.

The CHTF is seeking legislation to make this a reality during the 2004 legislative session.
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