ABOUT NOTICES OF PROJECT CHANGE

PURPOSE OF A NOTICE OF PROJECT CHANGE (NPC)

The MEPA regulations require the filing a NPC for either of two purposes:

1. to document a material change to a project and any related environmental impacts, or

2. to notify the Secretary and reviewers of a lapse of time in the development of a project

1. NOTICE OF PROJECT CHANGE FOR PROJECT CHANGE (see 301 CMR 11.10(1))

When is a NPC required?

A NPC is required whenever there is a material change (positive or negative) in a project prior to the taking of all agency actions for the project.

When is a change significant?

The MEPA regulations specify the factors which the Secretary may consider in determining whether changes to a project are significant. These factors include:

i. expansion in the physical dimensions of a project of 10% or more

ii. an increase in the level of impacts previously reviewed of 25% or more

iii. meeting or exceeding any review threshold that was not previously met or exceeded

iv. change in the expected date for commencement of the project or construction, completion date, or schedule

v. change of the project site

vi. new application for a permit or new request for financial assistance or land transfer

vii. for a project with net benefits to the environment, any change that prevents or delays realization of such benefits

Proponents should refer to Section 11.10(6) of the MEPA regulations for greater detail.

A proponent may include in a NPC a request that the Secretary determine the change to be insignificant in terms of its environmental consequences. The request for a determination of insignificance should refer specifically to these factors and provide any other relevant information. If the Secretary determines that the change is insignificant, the NPC will not be noticed in the Environmental Monitor, and she will issue a Certificate on the NPC within ten days of its receipt in the MEPA Office. Otherwise, the NPC will undergo the ordinary MEPA review as described below.

All NPCs, including those requesting to be found insignificant, must satisfy the circulation requirements described below.

2. NOTICE OF PROJECT CHANGE FOR LAPSE OF TIME (see 301 CMR 11.10(2))

When is a NPC required?

A NPC is required if more than three years have elapsed between

(I) the publication of the Environmental Notification Form (ENF) and the publication of the notice of availability of the single or final EIR; or

(II) the publication of the notice of availability of the single or final EIR; and the earlier of:

(a) notification of commencement of construction (see 301 CMR 11.08(9)), and

(b) commencement of non-construction related work or activity, including expenditure of funds for final design, property acquisition, or marketing, provided that the proponent has continued to take major steps in a continuous sequence to advance the project.

Suspension or abandonment of project construction for more than 3 years may also require a NPC.

When is a change significant?

The Secretary may consider changes in the ambient environment or in information concerning the ambient environment when determining whether a NPC for lapse of time is significant.


Apart from the above, the following may also require filing an NPC form.

3. NOTICE OF PROJECT CHANGE UPON SECRETARY’S DETERMINATION (see 301 CMR 11.10(5))

When is a NPC required?

If the Secretary determines that a proponent has, either knowingly or inadvertently, concealed a material fact or submitted false information during MEPA review, or has segmented the project, the Secretary may consider the determination to be a NPC.


PREPARING AND FILING THE NEW NPC FORM

The first three pages of the NPC form will be published in the Environmental Monitor. When filling out these pages, do not leave questions unanswered and do not refer reviewers to attached pages.

For detailed instructions on filling out the parts of the NPC form that are consistent with the ENF, please refer to the instructions for completing the ENF.

The NPC form is intended to collect information specific to the project change. In many instances, responses to the form may be limited to information about the change itself, without reference to the project as a whole.

The box on the first page that asks for a very brief description of the project change is intended to replace the short summary of the project change, which has previously been published in the Environmental Monitor. This description should be limited to the size of the box on the form, and this box should not be expanded. Recent examples of appropriately brief descriptions include, The project change involves

- "modification of the drainage system and the resulting need for a Mass. Highway Dept. Access Permit"

- "construction of two new general office and research & development buildings totaling 261,000 square feet with 348 additional parking spaces"

Note that page 3 of the form asks for a detailed description of the project change and is the appropriate location on the form for such a description.

When assembling the NPC for submittal to the MEPA Office, include

- one signed original NPC with all of the attachments, and

- one unbound copy of the NPC form only.

Attachments. The NPC filing must also include the following attachments:

A. Secretary’s most recent Certificate on this project

B. Plan showing most recent previously-reviewed proposed build condition

C. Plan showing currently proposed build condition

D. Original U.S.G.S. map or good quality color copy (8-1/2 x 11 inches or larger) indicating the project location and boundaries

E. List of all agencies and persons to whom the proponent circulated the NPC, in accordance with 301 CMR 11.10(7)

Circulation Requirements. If the NPC is being filed by the proponent, a copy of the complete NPC package, including the attachments, must be circulated to any agency or person who received the ENF or who commented on the ENF or any EIR. The NPC must be circulated prior to or when the NPC is filed with the MEPA Office.

If the NPC is being filed by an agency or person other than the proponent, the agency or person filing the NPC must send a copy to the proponent prior to or when filing with the MEPA Office.


Environmental Monitor Notice. The first three pages of the NPC will be printed in the Environmental Monitor. The publication date of the Environmental Monitor on which the NPC is published is the starting date of the 20 day comment period. During that period, the Secretary will accept written comment on the NPC.

Following the close of the comment period, the Secretary has ten days to issue a Certificate stating whether the project requires any additional MEPA review and, if it does, what the substance of that review will be. The Certificate will be mailed to the proponent along with a copy of each comment letter received.