Mayor Janey Withdraws Boston’s Downtown Municipal Harbor Plan

Plan guides waterfront development and access

The view from the Boston Harborwalk near the New England Aquarium in Boston, Massachusetts. Photo: Jerry Monkman

August 26, 2021 (BOSTON, MA) – Boston Mayor Kim Janey announced today that she has withdrawn Boston’s Downtown Municipal Harbor Plan (MHP) from the Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) rulemaking process. The zoning guidelines spell out what types of development are allowed on the waterfront in Downtown Boston. Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) released the following statement in response.

“Mayor Janey made the right decision today,” said CLF President Bradley Campbell. “Boston’s developer-driven MHP process is fundamentally flawed, and the Downtown MHP would have resulted in less public access to one of the city’s greatest treasures – Boston Harbor. It’s time to reform the planning processes for all waterfront neighborhoods to elevate the public’s voice and right to access the water. We look forward to working with the city to achieve this goal.”

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 today 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 instead. 

CLF experts are available for further comment.