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Major Regulatory Programs Involving CZM

Find links to these regulatory efforts of the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM).

CZM is involved in the following regulatory programs:

  • Federal Consistency Review - The federal Coastal Zone Management Act gives states the authority to review federal projects to ensure that they meet state standards articulated in their coastal zone management plans through a process called federal consistency review. Federal consistency review is required for most projects that are in or can reasonably be expected to affect a use or resource of the Massachusetts coastal zone and/or require federal licenses or permits, receive federal funds, or are a direct action of a federal agency.
  • Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan - The basic purpose of the Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan is to translate the policy direction and specific requirements of the Oceans Act of 2008 into a comprehensive management approach that can be implemented through existing state programs and regulations. CZM plays a leading role in plan implementation and updating.
  • Municipal Harbor Plans - Administered by CZM, the Municipal Harbor Planning Regulations establish a voluntary process by which cities and towns may develop and submit Municipal Harbor Plans (MHP) to the Secretary of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) for approval. Approved MHPs provide licensing guidance to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) in making decisions pursuant to Chapter 91 and the Waterways Regulations and may establish alternative numerical and dimensional requirements (such as increased building heights and footprints) provided that adverse effects to public rights along the waterfront are mitigated with appropriate offsetting measures.
  • Designated Port Areas - Designated Port Areas (DPAs) are areas identified by the Commonwealth as having particular importance for the promotion and maintenance of marine, water-dependent industrial uses. Decisions regarding licensing and allowed uses and structures fall to MassDEP. Under the Municipal Harbor Planning Regulations, municipalities may also seek approval for certain alternative provisions in the Chapter 91 standards through the development of DPA Master Plans. DPA policy is implemented by CZM through its responsibility—on behalf of the EEA Secretary—for DPA Master Plan review and DPA boundary administration, as well as its federal consistency review authority. MassDEP also implements DPA policy at the project level through the Chapter 91 regulations, which govern the licensing of structures and uses in DPAs.
  • Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act - The Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) provides meaningful opportunities for public review of the potential environmental impacts of projects and assists state agencies in using all feasible means to avoid damage to the environment or—to the extent damage cannot be avoided—to minimize and mitigate damage to the maximum extent practicable. While not formally applied during MEPA review, the state’s coastal policies are the primary focus of CZM’s review and comments. Since the MEPA process precedes the submittal of permit applications, it provides an important opportunity to identify potential coastal effects at an early stage, consider project alternatives that can avoid or minimize these issues, and ensure that coastal policies are implemented effectively.

The CZM website also includes the following regulatory information:

  • Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management Policy Guide - This document is the official statement of the Massachusetts coastal program policies and legal authorities, especially as they relate to the process of federal consistency review.
  • CZM Regulations - This page provides links to sections within the Massachusetts Code of Regulations that implement the Massachusetts coastal zone management program.
  • Coastal Zone Boundary - See this page for links to a description of the official Massachusetts coastal zone boundary and the mapping data.

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