US2 MEPA Waiver Filing
comments due August 24, 2018
Video of the consultation described at the end of this page is now available here.
Hello, members of the Union Square community and others who live, work or own property in Somerville!
The Environmental Monitor has published the US2 filing that requests a waiver from requirements imposed by MEPA, the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act, permitting that developer to proceed with construction of Phase One (the mega block ("D2") across Prospect Street from Dunkin Donuts) without a full environmental review. This is a critical phase of the approval process.
USNC calls especially on community members to review and comment on the recently submitted MEPA Phase 1 Waiver Request (EEA No. 15889). This waiver request was submitted to the MEPA Office by master developer US2 to request that construction be allowed to begin and proceed for the Union Square Redevelopment prior to a thorough review of an Environmental Impact Report being conducted on the "D2" parcel. Comments are due by August 24, 2018.
The MEPA Office is a part of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA). The MEPA Process is a thorough review of potential environmental impacts of development projects in the Commonwealth. Developers undertaking large projects must submit an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) to the MEPA Office which addresses all potential MEPA Thresholds that could be met. If a MEPA Threshold (a parameter determined to be of environmental significance) is met, a thorough review by the MEPA Office is required. Depending on the size of the project, state departments might be required to review applicable permits and grant necessary permissions for the project to be allowed to proceed. The granting of a Phase 1 Waiver Request does not excuse the overall project from a thorough MEPA review. Instead it allows one segment, or phase, of the project to begin construction before a full review by the MEPA Office of the project's EIR has been completed.
US2 has submitted a Phase 1 Waiver request for the D2 parcel of the Union Square Redevelopment Project. The waiver states a delay would cause undue hardship on the proprietor. The proprietor in this case is the City of Somerville and the Union Square community.
In accordance with the CDSP (Coordinated Development Special Permit) approved by the City in December 2017, the D2 parcel is to be developed simultaneously with regard to the Green Line Extension and the Somerville Infrastructure projects, in order to ensure maximal success for each entity. There are estimates of millions of dollars in tax revenue to be generated from the completion of the D2 parcel.
The D2 parcel, however, is unique due to the Thresholds defined in the Phase 1 Waiver Request that must be thoroughly reviewed by the MEPA Office, ideally before construction begins. Some of the Thresholds that have been met include contamination (defined under the Massachusetts Contingency Plan Section), wastewater generation, and transportation.
If there is an area that you are interested in regarding the redevelopment of Union Square or if you have experience in a particular field applicable to a section of the waver application (see below), we suggest that you start in that section of the document. The entire waiver application document is roughly 500 pages of details pertaining to environmental concerns so we do not expect anyone to read the whole thing (of course, if you do that would be great!). This task requires a lot of attention to the facts. Please ensure that your comments are based upon as accurate an understanding as you can possibly acquire.
Following is a list of sections in the waiver application:
- Phase 1 Waiver Request - why developer is requesting a waiver
- Project Description - what does the project entail
- Public Process - how has this project evolved
- Alternatives Analysis - what other development options are possible
- Mitigation - effort to reduce hardships in the community
- Transportation - cars, parking, biking, etc
- Infrastructure - waterways and waste water
- Historic Resources - historic building regulation and preservation
- Greenhouse Gas Emissions Analysis - carbon emissions
- Hazardous Materials - proper management and disposal during construction
- Air Quality - ozone precursor emissions
- Construction Impacts - environmental impacts from construction
One especially good source of information about the US2 waiver applications and the implications of granting such a waiver is the public consultation session held at the public safety building (police station) on Thursday, August 2nd. A recording of that event is available here.
We would like to encourage you to participate in the public comment process and to submit a statement based upon as factual an understanding as you are able to acquire from the waiver application and any other other materials that may be avalable to you relative the section(s) of interest. Comments should be unique and based upon sincere interest. We are not asking you to support or oppose the MEPA waiver request, as both positions have their pros and cons. This request is a public service announcement to interest fellow community members to combine our voices and help direct the future of our neighborhood!
Please address your letter to Secretary Matthew A. Beaton, and submit via:
100 Cambridge Street, Suite 900
Boston, MA 02114
Be sure to include the MEPA Project Number: EEA No. 15889
Comments must be received by the MEPA Office no later than August 24, 2018.
You are also encouraged to attend USNC Built Environment Committee meetings and Union Square Neighborhood Council general meetings to stay involved in this important shared effort!
We truly appreciate you all for your commitment to our community.