July 2008

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BACKGROUND

The Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act - MEPA - requires that state agencies study the environmental consequences of their actions, including permitting and financial assistance. It also requires them to take all feasible measures to avoid, minimize, and mitigate damage to the environment.

MEPA further requires that state agencies "use all practicable means and measures to minimize damage to the environment," by studying alternatives to the proposed project, and developing enforceable mitigation commitments, which will become permit conditions for the project if and when it is permitted. MEPA applies to projects above a certain size that involve some state agency action. That is, they are either proposed by a state agency or are proposed by municipal, nonprofit or private parties and require a permit, financial assistance, or land transfer from state agencies.

MEPA review is not a permitting process. MEPA requires public study, disclosure, and development of feasible mitigation for a proposed project. It does not pass judgment on whether a project is environmentally beneficial, or whether a project can or should receive a particular permit. Those decisions are left to the permitting agencies. MEPA review occurs before permitting agencies act, to ensure that they know the environmental consequences of their actions.

If a Project is subject to MEPA jurisdiction and either it meets or exceeds one or more review thresholds or the Secretary requires fail-safe review, the Proponent begins MEPA review by preparing and filing an Environmental Notification Form (ENF) with the Secretary. The Secretary publishes the appropriate pages of the ENF in the next Environmental Monitor. A 30-Day review period follows, during the first 20 Days of which Agencies, Persons, the MEPA Office (which ordinarily conducts a site visit and public consultation session), and the Secretary review and comment on the ENF. At the close of the review period for an ENF, the Secretary decides whether to require an Environmental Impact Report (EIR). If the Secretary does not require an EIR, an Agency may take Agency Action on the Project (see 301 CMR 11.05 and 11.06).

DATA

ENF data are entered on a bi-weekly basis into an Oracle database, and stored in a series of approximately two-dozen interrelated tables. Starting in the 4th quarter of 2005, these data are now being processed and converted into point locations to be used in GIS. GIS data for MEPA is currently updated and published on a quarterly basis. The naming convention used for the files reflects this (i.e. MEPA06_Q1 represents all the ENF projects from the 1st quarter of the 2006 calendar year). Currently MassGIS distributes the following point layers:
  • MEPA05_Q4

 
  • MEPA06_Q1
  • MEPA06_Q2
  • MEPA06_Q3
  • MEPA06_Q4

 
  • MEPA07_Q1
  • MEPA07_Q2
  • MEPA07_Q3
  • MEPA07_Q4

 
  • MEPA08_Q1
  • MEPA08_Q2

MassGIS, with the assistance of MEPA staff, has identified the information considered most useful to the public and EOEA. The following is a list of the selected attributes extracted for the creation of a GIS datalayer:
REG_OBJ_ID  
 
Unique internal database identifier. Not used for external reference purposes.
EOEA_ID
 
Unique ID assigned sequentially by MEPA staff for reference purposes.
PROJECT
 
Unofficial project name assigned by developer/consultant.
LOCATION
 
General location of the project. Usually a street address, if known.
TOWN
 
The town(s) the project location exists in.
PROJ_TYPE
 
A 4 to 6 character code that generally describes the type of project proposed. A single project may be categorized as several types, if appropriate. Currently, 93 categories exist. (see Data Dictionary below)
SUPERGROUP
 
An aggregation of the 93 PROJ_TYPE categories into 10 “supergroups”, representative of a more generalized project type description. (see Data Dictionary below)
NUM_SUPGRP
 
The number of supergroups a given project belongs to.
THRESHOLDS
 
Contains descriptive text that defines which ENF review threshold(s)/criteria have been met or exceeded as to require the ENF. (see 301 CMR 11.03)
WATERSHED
 
Specifies which of the 35 major watersheds the proposed project exists within.
LAT
 
The reported geographic latitude of the project site location, in decimal degrees.
LONG_
 
The reported geographic longitude of the project site location, in decimal degrees.
DATE_
 
The date of the Environmental Monitor publication that the ENF project is included in the format of the date value is MMDDYY.
URL
 
The web address for a scanned PDF version of the ENF form submitted for the given project, hosted on the MEPA website, if available.
SITE_ACRES
 
Total project site acreage.
LAND_ALTER
 
New acres of land altered by the project.
IMPERV_X
 
Existing impervious surface area on project site. (acres)
IMPERV_C
 
Proposed change in project site impervious surface area. (acres)
IMPERV_T
 
New total impervious surface area on site. (acres)
BRDR_WTLND
 
Area of new bordering vegetated wetlands alteration. (sq. ft.)
OTHR_WTLND
 
Area of new other wetland alteration. (sq. ft.)
NONH2O_USE
 
Area of new non-water dependent use of tidelands or waterways. (acres)
BLDGX_SQFT
 
Gross square footage of existing structures on site.
BLDGC_SQFT
 
Gross square footage of proposed new structures (or elimination of structures) on site.
BLDGT_SQFT
 
Gross square footage of total structures on site upon project completion.
NUM_UNIT_X
 
Number of existing housing units on site.
NUM_UNIT_C
 
Number of new housing units (or elimination of housing units) proposed by project.
NUM_UNIT_T
 
Number of total housing units on site upon project completion.
BLDGX_MXHT
 
Maximum height of existing structures. (feet)
BLDGC_MXHT
 
Maximum height of proposed structures. (feet)
BLDGT_MXHT
 
Maximum height of all structures upon completion of project. (feet)
TRIP_DAY_X
 
Existing vehicle trips per day to/from project site.
TRIP_DAY_C
 
Expected change in number of vehicle trips per day to/from project site.
TRIP_DAY_T
 
Total vehicle trips per day to/from site upon project completion.
PARK_SPC_X
 
Existing parking spaces at project site.
PARK_SPC_C
 
Proposed change to the number of parking spaces at project site.
PARK_SPC_T
 
Total number of parking spaces at site upon completion of project.
USE_H2O_X
 
Existing water use. (Gal./Day)
USE_H2O_C
 
Proposed change in water use. (Gal./Day)
USE_H2O_T
 
Total water use upon completion of project. (Gal./Day)
DRAW_H2O_X
 
Existing water withdrawal. (Gal./Day)
DRAW_H2O_C
 
Proposed change in water withdrawal. (Gal./Day)
DRAW_H2O_T
 
Total water withdrawal upon completion of project. (Gal./Day)
WASTE_H2O_X
 
Existing wastewater generation/treatment. (Gal./Day)
WASTE_H2O_C
 
Proposed change in wastewater generation/treatment. (Gal./Day)
WASTE_H2O_T
 
Total wastewater generation/treatment upon completion of project. (Gal./Day)
PIPELNGTHX
 
Existing length of water/sewer mains. (Miles)
PIPELNGTHC
 
Proposed change in length of water/sewer mains. (Miles)
PIPELNGTHT
 
Total length of water/sewer mains upon completion of project. (Miles)

Note:  When pipe length values are reported separately for water mains and sewer mains, only the sewer main information is input into the database, as sewer main extensions are a MEPA threshold, and water pipe extensions are not.

After an in-house effort to check for consistency and numerical conversion errors, the project coordinates are converted into point locations and stored in an ArcSDE database. Other attributes are spot-checked, but most of the reported information remains untouched. When value ranges or multiple values are submitted for certain fields instead of single values, a case-by-case determination is made to record either the minimum, maximum, or average value, depending on the context and impact.  In some cases, this may result in seemingly obvious inequities  (i.e. existing values + proposed change values not equaling the expected total value). But at this time, MassGIS is following a policy of reporting submitted information “as is” whenever possible, and not performing corrections in the MEPA database. It is always best to consult the scanned ENF forms made available online to determine the most accurate information.

DATA DICTIONARY

PROJ_TYPE
 
 
 
DESCRIPTION
 
 
 
SUPERGROUP
 
401WAT
 
401 WATER QUALITY CERTIFICATION
 
WATER/WASTEWATER INFRASTRUCTURE
AGRIC
 
AGRICULTURAL
 
STATE LAND/FUNDING/OTHER
AIRPRT
 
AIRPORT
 
COMMERCIAL
AIRSER
 
AIR SERVICES
 
COMMERCIAL
ART80
 
BRA ARTICLE 80 REVIEW
 
STATE LAND/FUNDING/OTHER
BKPTH
 
BICYCLE PATH
 
RECREATION
BKSTAB
 
BANK STABILIZATION
 
COASTAL INFRASTRUCTURE
BLDADD
 
BUILDING ADDITION
 
HOUSING
BLDDEM
 
BUILDING DEMOLITION
 
COMMERCIAL
BRIDGE
 
BRIDGES
 
TRANSPORTATION INFRASTRUCTURE
BROWN
 
BROWNFIELDS REDEVELOPMENT
 
ENVIRONMENTAL RESTORATION/CLEAN-UP
BULKPR
 
BULKHEADS/PIERS
 
COASTAL INFRASTRUCTURE
CARWSH
 
CAR WASH
 
COMMERCIAL
CEMETA
 
CEMETARY
 
INSTITUTIONAL
CH91LC
 
CHAPTER 91 LICENSE
 
COASTAL INFRASTRUCTURE
COGENR
 
COGENERATION
 
ENERGY INFRASTRUCTURE
COGRWT
 
CONTAMINATED GROUND WATER
 
WATER/WASTEWATER INFRASTRUCTURE
COLLEG
 
COLLEGE
 
INSTITUTIONAL
COMPOS
 
COMPOSTING
 
ENVIRONMENTAL RESTORATION/CLEAN-UP
COSALT
 
COASTAL ALTERATION
 
COASTAL INFRASTRUCTURE
COURT
 
COURT HOUSE
 
INSTITUTIONAL
CSTARM
 
COASTAL ARMORING
 
COASTAL INFRASTRUCTURE
CSTSTR
 
COASTAL STRUCTURES
 
COASTAL INFRASTRUCTURE
CSTWAT
 
COASTAL WATER
 
COASTAL INFRASTRUCTURE
DAMS
 
DAMS
 
COASTAL INFRASTRUCTURE
DISRET
 
DISCOUNT RETAIL
 
COMMERCIAL
DRAIMP
 
DRAINAGE IMPROVEMENTS
 
WATER/WASTEWATER INFRASTRUCTURE
DREDGE
 
DREDGING
 
COASTAL INFRASTRUCTURE
EFFOTF
 
EFFLUENT OUTFALL
 
WATER/WASTEWATER INFRASTRUCTURE
FOREST
 
FOREST
 
ENVIRONMENTAL RESTORATION/CLEAN-UP
GARAGE
 
GARAGE-PARKING
 
COMMERCIAL
GASCON
 
GAS/CONV.STORE
 
COMMERCIAL
GASLIN
 
GAS PIPELINE
 
ENERGY INFRASTRUCTURE
GASSTA
 
GAS STATION
 
ENERGY INFRASTRUCTURE
GOLF
 
GOLF COURSE
 
RECREATION
HOSPTL
 
HOSPITAL
 
INSTITUTIONAL
HOTEL
 
HOTEL
 
COMMERCIAL
HZDMAT
 
HAZARDOUS MATERIALS
 
ENVIRONMENTAL RESTORATION/CLEAN-UP
HZDWST
 
HAZARDOUS WASTE
 
ENVIRONMENTAL RESTORATION/CLEAN-UP
INCINR
 
INCINERATOR
 
COMMERCIAL
INDFCL
 
INDUSTRIAL FACILITY
 
COMMERCIAL
INDPRK
 
INDUSTRIAL PARK
 
COMMERCIAL
INSTIT
 
INSTITUTIONAL-OTHER
 
INSTITUTIONAL
LANDFL
 
LANDFILL
 
ENVIRONMENTAL RESTORATION/CLEAN-UP
LKSPDS
 
LAKES/PONDS/RIVERS
 
COASTAL INFRASTRUCTURE
MARINA
 
MARINA
 
COASTAL INFRASTRUCTURE
MARSH
 
MARSH RESTORATION
 
COASTAL INFRASTRUCTURE
MISC
 
MISCELLANOUS
 
STATE LAND/FUNDING/OTHER
MIXUSE
 
MIXED USE
 
COMMERCIAL
MOVITH
 
MOVIE THEATER
 
COMMERCIAL
NURHOM
 
NURSING HOME
 
INSTITUTIONAL
OFFICE
 
OFFICE
 
COMMERCIAL
ORDERC
 
ORDER OF CONDITIONS
 
STATE LAND/FUNDING/OTHER
PARK
 
PARK
 
RECREATION
POLCON
 
POLLUTION CONTROL
 
ENVIRONMENTAL RESTORATION/CLEAN-UP
POSTOF
 
POST OFFICE
 
INSTITUTIONAL
PRISON
 
PRISON
 
INSTITUTIONAL
PRKLOT
 
PARKING - OTHER/LOT
 
TRANSPORTATION INFRASTRUCTURE
PWRPLT
 
POWER PLANT
 
ENERGY INFRASTRUCTURE
RAILRD
 
RAILROAD
 
TRANSPORTATION INFRASTRUCTURE
RECRTN
 
RECREATION
 
RECREATION
RECYCL
 
RECYCLING
 
ENVIRONMENTAL RESTORATION/CLEAN-UP
REDEV
 
REDEVELOPMENT
 
COMMERCIAL
REGS
 
REGULATIONS
 
STATE LAND/FUNDING/OTHER
RESDEV
 
RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
 
COMMERCIAL
RESIDN
 
RESIDENTIAL
 
HOUSING
RESREC
 
RESOURCE RECOVERY
 
ENVIRONMENTAL RESTORATION/CLEAN-UP
RESTRT
 
RESTAURANT
 
COMMERCIAL
RETAIL
 
RETAIL
 
COMMERCIAL
ROADS
 
ROADS
 
TRANSPORTATION INFRASTRUCTURE
SCHOOL
 
SCHOOL
 
INSTITUTIONAL
SEWRGE
 
SEWERAGE
 
WATER/WASTEWATER INFRASTRUCTURE
SEWTRT
 
SEWAGE TREATMENT
 
WATER/WASTEWATER INFRASTRUCTURE
SLDWST
 
SOLID WASTE-OTHER
 
ENVIRONMENTAL RESTORATION/CLEAN-UP
SLGFAC
 
SLUDGE/RESID FACIL
 
WATER/WASTEWATER INFRASTRUCTURE
STFNDS
 
STATE FUNDING
 
STATE LAND/FUNDING/OTHER
STLAND
 
STATE LAND
 
STATE LAND/FUNDING/OTHER
STORAG
 
STORAGE - OIL - GAS - OTHER
 
ENERGY INFRASTRUCTURE
SUPER
 
SUPERSEDING ORDER OF CONDITIONS
 
STATE LAND/FUNDING/OTHER
TRANOT
 
TRANSIT-OTHER
 
TRANSPORTATION INFRASTRUCTURE
TRANRL
 
TRANSIT-RAIL
 
TRANSPORTATION INFRASTRUCTURE
TRANSF
 
TRANSFER-STATE LAND
 
ENVIRONMENTAL RESTORATION/CLEAN-UP
TRANSM
 
TRANSMISSION
 
ENERGY INFRASTRUCTURE
TRNSTA
 
TRANSFER STATION
 
COMMERCIAL
UTILTY
 
UTILITY-OTHER
 
ENERGY INFRASTRUCTURE
WAMANG
 
WATER MANAGEMENT ACT PERMIT
 
WATER/WASTEWATER INFRASTRUCTURE
WARHSE
 
WAREHOUSE FACILITY
 
COMMERCIAL
WASTWT
 
WASTEWATER
 
WATER/WASTEWATER INFRASTRUCTURE
WATDIS
 
WATER - DISCHARGE
 
WATER/WASTEWATER INFRASTRUCTURE
WATPLT
 
WATER DIST/FLT PLANT
 
WATER/WASTEWATER INFRASTRUCTURE
WATSUP
 
WATER SUPPLY
 
WATER/WASTEWATER INFRASTRUCTURE
WATWTD
 
WATER WITHDRAWAL
 
WATER/WASTEWATER INFRASTRUCTURE
WELL
 
WELL
 
WATER/WASTEWATER INFRASTRUCTURE

USEFUL LINKS

MEPA homepage -- http://www.mass.gov/envir/mepa/index.htm
The Environmental Monitor --http://www.mass.gov/envir/mepa/secondlevelpages/currentissue.htm
ENF Form Downloads -- http://www.mass.gov/envir/mepa/thirdlevelpages/downloads.htm
ENF Archives -- http://www.mass.gov/envir/mepa/thirdlevelpages/monitorarchives/archivespage.htm

CONTACTS

For questions about the geographic and technical components of this dataset, please contact Dan Marrier at daniel.marrier@state.ma.us, with an email subject heading of: “MEPA data question”.
All other questions should be directed to Anne Canaday of MEPA at anne.canaday@state.ma.us.

Last Updated 7/11/2008