The Bunker Hill Redevelopment team will not seek a waiver for the City’s Article 80 review process, but will seek a waiver from state environmental reviews (MEPA) for its Phase 1 portion of the project – which includes the first two buildings of a 10-year buildout.
Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) officials confirmed that the Article 80 process would not be waived for Bunker Hill, and that residents can expect a full and robust set of meetings to review the current proposal.
“The MEPA process is a state process, and separate from the BPDA’s Article 80 review,” read a statement from the BPDA. “The BPDA is committed to conducting a full Article 80 review process for the Bunker Hill Housing Redevelopment proposal, including the public review of Phase 1 and all future phases. The comment period for the project is open until May 11, and we encourage the public to continue to share their feedback on the proposed project.”
In a recent filing with the BPDA and MEPA, it was indicated that a waiver would be sought, but it wasn’t entirely clear which kind of waiver. It was reported that a waiver for both processes would be sought, but that was not correct.
“We understand how the term ‘waiver’ can be misleading,” said Adelaide Grady, executive director of Bunker Hill Housing Redevelopment. “It is an administrative measure that does not impact the City public review process in any way and does not change our commitment to building all buildings utilizing Passive House design – the highest environmental efficiency standard in the world for greenhouse gas emissions reductions and sustainability for residential building. The environmental impact report, required by MEPA, will cover the entire development area, including the two buildings in Phase I. We will not proceed with subsequent phases until the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) is approved for the entire site.”
The MEPA process is very familiar to those in Charlestown, with residents reviewing filings over and over regarding the Encore Boston Harbor casino. That MEPA process was the longest in the history of that review process, and one of the key outcomes for Charlestown was securing a thorough review of the traffic and parking concerns related to the casino.
Other MEPA processes have taken place in Charlestown in the Navy Yard, particularly for the Spaulding project some years ago.
The idea for the waiver is to be able to start construction on the first two buildings more immediately, which is in large part to help residents with relocation issues. While the waiver would curtail extended review of the first phase, the remainder of the project (which is a multi-phased over at least 10 years) would not be able to move forward until the full MEPA review is completed and a certificate if issued by the state administration.
Bunker Hill Development meetings move to online format amidst Coronavirus
The development team for the Bunker Hill proposal announced on Wednesday they would be taking their series of community workshops to an online format for the time being due to concerns over the Coronavirus.
The in-person meetings scheduled for March 18, March 25 and April 1 are snot cheduled to occur.at this point. The kick-off meeting on March 18 will feature only a video presentation on the project website, www.bunkerhillhousing.com. The meetings on March 25 and April 1 are tabbed to be online workshops/webinars.
Questions can be submitted by e-mail at [email protected]. Since declaring a public health state of emergency on Tuesday, Gov. Charlie Baker and Mayor Martin Walsh have discouraged large meetings and large gatherings in order to curtail the spread of the virus in Greater Boston.