The primary goals of the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management's (CZM) Port and Harbor Planning Program are to:

  • Help ensure that waterfront areas in the Commonwealth grow in a safe, environmentally sound, and economically prosperous manner.
  • Balance potentially competing uses within a port or harbor.

The major components of the Port and Harbor Planning Program include:

  • Municipal Harbor Plans - A Municipal Harbor Plan (MHP) establishes a community’s objectives, standards, and policies for guiding public and private use of land and water within the jurisdiction of the Public Waterfront Act (Chapter 91). CZM has developed a set of regulations that articulate how a coastal community can develop a state-approved MHP that modifies statewide Chapter 91 standards. CZM also provides assistance and guidance for more informal harbor planning activities to address community needs, such as the development of a mooring plan.
  • Designated Port Areas - To promote and protect water-dependent-industrial uses, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has established 11 Designated Port Areas (DPAs). These DPAs have the necessary physical and operational features needed to support businesses that require close proximity to the ocean—such as commercial fishing, shipping, and other vessel-related activities associated with water-borne commerce—as well as to support manufacturing, processing, and production activities that require marine transportation or the withdrawal or discharge of large volumes of water. CZM supports planning to promote maritime development and is responsible for establishing, mapping, and reviewing DPA boundaries. CZM works with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, who is responsible for permitting uses, fill, and structures in DPAs, to implement DPA policy goals and objectives.
  • Dredged Material Management Plan Technical Reports - From 1998 through 2004, CZM developed technical information in support of the Massachusetts Dredged Material Management Plan (DMMP). The goal of the DMMP was to identify management solutions for dredged materials to facilitate channel dredging and port development while minimizing impacts to marine and cultural resources.
  • Technical Assistance - CZM’s Regional Coordinators are available to provide cities and towns with technical assistance and support for harbor planning (both as part of a formal Municipal Harbor Plan process and more informal harbor planning activities), DPA planning, dredge planning, and related port and harbor planning activities.
  • Publications - CZM has produced a variety of publications and released dozens of formal decisions on port and harbor planning issues.