Mayor Michelle Wu recently stated that her office is officially taking on the Downtown Municipal Harbor Plan and the East Boston harbor planning process. The goal, according to Mayor Wu, is to help better ensure Boston serves as a role model for “equitable access and climate resiliency” for coastal cities throughout the country.
The mayor continues in her statement to explain how Boston is at risk of loosing important housing structures, commercial buildings, and historic sites as a result of the risks that come with rising sea levels due to climate change and nor’easters. Mayor Wu states they city needs to make changes to the current plan to help meet these needs.
How is Mayor Wu going to achieve this goal?
Mayor Wu filed an amendment to Boston’s Downtown Waterfront District Municipal Harbor Plan (MHP). The amendment states that changes to the approved plan are required due to new findings from additional planning and analysis efforts.
What will this mean for future development projects in Boston?
One of the triggers for this change was the results of a climate analysis. Part of this analysis found serious risk of housing displacement as a result of sea level rise and coastal storms impacting neighborhoods in Boston. The authors of the analysis called on lawmakers to provide solutions through renewed regulatory efforts.
- Limitations on fill. Current regulations put categorical restrictions on fill, which could prove a problem for smaller areas that require fill to address sea level concerns.
- Mitigation efforts and wetland protections. Regulations that focus on these issues could prove a hurdle for larger projects that require fill to reduce the risk of flooding.
- Updates to flood zones. The current requirements are based on past flooding
events and are unlikely to be in line with current and future needs.
If implemented, these changes could impact the permitting process for future projects.