Article 97 & The Public Lands Preservation Act

Ensuring No Net Loss of Protected Open Space

Article 97 of the Amendments to the Massachusetts Constitution (Art. 97) establishes a right to a clean environment including its natural, scenic, historical, and aesthetic qualities for the citizens of the Commonwealth.   Art. 97 also declares the conservation of natural resources a public purpose and provides that land or easements subject to Art. 97 shall not be used for other purposes or disposed of without a two-thirds roll call vote of the Legislature. 

An Act Preserving Open Space in the Commonwealth, also known as the Public Lands Preservation Act (PLPA), established in statute requirements and a process for submission to the legislature of petitions to authorize the use for another purpose or disposition of land subject to Article 97 of the Amendments to the Constitution of the Commonwealth (Art. 97).

Under the Act, the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) must receive alternatives analyses and consider requests for waivers or modifications of the replacement land requirement or the payment of money in lieu of providing replacement land.   

To advance understanding of the new law, including proper consideration of alternatives and whether proposed replacement land meets the standards of the Act, EEA is providing on this webpage a guidance document, answers to frequently asked questions, and other useful information.

A “PLPA Portal” has also been created to streamline the submission process by providing an online tool for EEA to accept required documents and easily post alternative analyses, facilitating compliance with the PLPA’s public notice requirement.

Table of Contents

Tools & Information


All questions related to the PLPA or Art. 97 should be sent to including:

  • Questions on the use of the PLPA Portal, the application itself, the status of a submission, or the availability of information on PLPA submissions;
  • Policy oriented or substantive questions about Art. 97; and
  • Technical questions around the proper drafting of PLPA legislation

EEA policy, legal, and legislative staff will collaboratively review & respond to submitted questions.

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