September 21, 2021 (BOSTON, MA) – In comments made to reporters yesterday, Governor Charlie Baker claimed that Boston Mayor Janey could not remove the city’s Downtown Municipal Harbor Plan from the state planning process without first creating a new plan. In August, Mayor Janey announced her decision to withdraw the plan to create a more inclusive one focused on climate resilience. Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) released the following statement in response.
“Governor Baker’s comments regarding Boston’s Downtown Municipal Harbor Plan make little sense,” said CLF Senior Counsel Peter Shelley. “It is ironic that the governor won’t accept the City of Boston’s decision, since state officials have always touted the importance of local control in this planning process. The Superior Court made it clear: the Baker Administration’s process for handling municipal harbor plans violates state law. Governor Baker’s decision to ignore Mayor Janey’s request further politicizes what is already a deeply flawed process that puts developer interests ahead of public access rights and the environment.”
CLF and several partners urged Mayor Janey to create a new plan that focuses on waterfront access and climate resilience in a letter sent to her in July. The mayor made it clear in her August announcement that resilience and climate impacts would be major considerations in creating the new Downtown MHP, along with public access to the water.
CLF challenged Boston’s Downtown Municipal Harbor Plan in a lawsuit after state officials ignored decades-old rules governing public waterfront access in approving Boston’s plan. A judge ruled in favor of CLF in April. In May, DEP responded by releasing new draft regulations concerning waterfront development that propose to retroactively enact Boston’s existing flawed municipal harbor plan. Mayor Janey’s announcement means that the city will start from scratch in creating a new plan focused on public access and resilience.
CLF experts are available for further comment.