The Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) office is part of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA), an agency of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The MEPA Office conducts reviews of the environmental impacts of development projects. Generally, a developer will submit an Environmental Notification Form (ENF) to MEPA. MEPA will accept public comments on the ENF and then issue a ruling which may require the developer to conduct and submit an Environmental Impact Report (EIR). If an EIR is required, the ruling will include a prescribed scope which must be met.
The developer then submits a Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR). This will be followed by a 30-day period for public comment after which time MEPA will issue a ruling that either
- the DEIR is adequate even if certain aspects of the Project or issues require additional description or analysis in a final EIR;
- there are no remaining substantive issues and the DEIR can be reissued as a final EIR;
- the DEIR is inadequate, requiring substantive changes and re-submission of a new DEIR.
Current StatusDEIR approved as adequate by MEPA August 29, 2011.
DEIR filed June 22, 2011.
ENF Certificate issued by MEPA June 4, 2010.
ENF filed May 5, 2010.
On May 5, 2010, BH Normandy's ENF was published in the Environmental Monitor, beginning 20 days of public comment. During that period, MEPA received comments from twenty-one interested parties.
Environmental Notification Form (ENF)
On June 4, 2010, MEPA issued their "Certificate of the Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs on the Environmental Notification Form". This requires the developer to prepare a mandatory Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and outlines the required scope for the EIR.
Here are links to the ENF filed by the developer, some of the comments submitted to MEPA, and the Certificate issued by MEPA outlining the scope of the mandatory EIR. The ENF is broken into three parts due to its large size.
Environmental Notification Form
- Response to ENF from the Riverside Station Neighborhood Coalition
- Response to ENF from the Ward 4 Aldermen of the City of Newton
- Response to ENF from the City of Newton, including comments from the Planning Department, Conservation Commission, City Engineering, and a Waban resident
- Response to ENF from the Charles River Watershed Association
- Response to ENF from the Woodland Grove Condominium Association
Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR)
BH Normandy Riverside LLC has completed the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) and has filed it with the State of Massachusetts (MEPA office). This report goes into great detail as to what the project is expected to entail-
- the size of the project
- the impacts of the project
- how the developer plans to manage and mitigate those impacts
- conditions at the project site
- rough construction schedule
The full report is available at the City of Newton Planning & Development website.
Table of contents for this report:Cover Letter
- Project Description and Permitting
- Alternatives Analysis
- Greenhouse Gas Emissions
- Traffic and Transportation
- Air Quality
- Wetlands - Drainage
- Water Supply
- Hazardous Waste
- Construction Period Impacts
- Mitigation and Proposed Draft Section 61 Findings
- Response to Comments
- Secretary's Certificate and Comment Letters
- Community Meeting June 9, 2011 PPT Presentation
- Transportation Technical Appendix
- Greenhouse Gas Analysis Technical Data
- Mesoscale Air Quality Analysis Technical Data
- Stormwater Mangement Plan Tech Data
- Noise Assessment
- Subsurface Investigations
ResponsesMEPA received a number of comments from various agencies, groups, and residents. Links are included in the list below for the comments which were also copied to the RSNC.
- Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR)
- Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, Northeast Regional Office (MassDEP NERO)
- Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT)
- Massachusetts Division of Energy Resources (DOER)
- Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA)
- City of Newton, Department of Planning and Development; Transportation; Engineering; Environmental
- Alderman Amy Mah Sangiolo, Alderman Lenny Gentile, and Alderman-at-Large Jay Harney
- Charles River Watershed Association
- Equity Office Properties
- League of Women Voters Newton
- Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC)
- Riverside Station Neighborhood Coalition
- Newton Conservators
- Woodland Grove Condominium Trust
- Marjorie Arons-Barron and James Barron
- Ted Cochran and Bob Persons
- Beverly Bernson
- Valerie J. Hutchins
- John H. McElduff
- Bruce and Elizabeth Mc Vittie
- Sonia and Vanik Petrossian
- Lawrence C. Schwirian
- Norman Sieman
- Robert Sklar and Kathleen Zezulak
- Ingeborg Uhlir
- Anatol Zukerman
On August 26, 2011, Richard Sullivan, Secretary of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, issued a certificate of acceptance for BH Normandy Riverside's Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR).
While the DEIR has been accepted, the certificate sets out a number of comments and directives to be incorporated into the final EIR submission.
This finding followed 2 months of public review and comment on the DEIR. The MEPA office received 26 comment letters from community residents, state agencies, the City of Newton, the Ward 4 Aldermen, the RSNC, and other civic and environmental groups.
The ruling includes a number of directives and suggestions for incorporation into a final EIR submission, which are summarized in the "Scope" section of the ruling.
Certificate Excerpt- Scope and Conclusion.
The next step in the MEPA process is for BH Normandy to ceate and submit a final Environmental Impact Report which takes into account the comments and directives set out in the MEPA certificate.
Following that filing, there will be another 30 day comment period. A week after that, the Secretary will issue a ruling that the final EIR is adequate, even if certain aspects of the Project or issues require additional analysis; or that the final EIR is inadequate- requiring the developer to file a supplemental EIR and begin this process again.
Select Quotations from the Certificate
In particular, additional consultation between the Proponent, MassDOT, MBTA, FHWA, the City of Newton and its residents is necessary to further develop access alternatives.
It is clear that consensus has not been reached for the proposed access plan and additional consultation and analysis is required to demonstrate that local and State interests are balanced appropriately.
I strongly encourage the Proponent to consider reducing the project size further to minimize traffic generation and to consider reducing the number of lanes proposed for Grove Street.
The Final EIR should include analysis of removing the curb cut from the Hotel Indigo and/or analyze the driveway as right-in, rightout only.
Proponent should consult with DCR regarding potential mitigation for impacts to DCR roadways, including Recreation Road, Park Road and Quineboquin Road.
The Final EIR should identify how vehicular, bicycle and pedestrian access can be improved and/or expanded between the project site, Hotel Indigo, and the Riverside Office Park as another strategy to minimize vehicle trips.
I encourage the Proponent to consider and commit to installation of solar PV systems on project buildings.
In addition, the Final EIR should describe in more detail projects proposed by DCR to provide access and rehabilitate pedestrian bridges through the Accelerated Bridge Program (ABP), including the Riverside Rail Trial, Recreation Road footbridge and the Riverside Park footbridge. It should address coordination with DCR regarding the feasibility of restoring the railroad underpass at the bottom of Recreation Road.
The Proponent should make a specific commitment to support DCR efforts for the Recreation Road multi-use path and/or hiking trails along both sides of Charles River in the project vicinity and should clearly illustrate how the proposed on-site connection is designed to support these efforts.