Coastal Zone Management and the Department of Environmental Protection have offered their final comments on the November draft of Cohassetís Municipal Harbor Plan
An end could finally be nearing in the Cohasset Municipal Harbor Plan saga.
Town officials have received comments from Massachusetts Coastal Zone Management (CZM) and the state's Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) on the November draft of the Harbor Plan.
Following a Jan. 21 meeting with representatives from CZM and DEP and Cohassetís Harbor Plan consultant, Emily Innes of Harriman, Town Planner Lauren Lind submitted a summary of the comments made on the plan to the Board of Selectmen.
For major points were raised by state officials, including two editing requests.
First, CZM and DEP requested additional narrative about the evolution between various drafts of the Harbor Plan. The idea behind this being that it should be clear to anyone reading the final draft how the process and comments made to previous drafts resulted in the numerous iterations and eventual finished product.
The agencies also offered support of "Amplifications" I and II in the Harbor Plan. Amplification I relates to the maximum building height of 35 feet within the Harbor Village Business Overlay District (HVBOD). Amplification II is regarding the minimum setback of 25 feet from the seawall within the same zone.
Officials were told that these Amplifications assist in reinforcing zoning regulations in overlay district, creating more stringent regulations than typically available under Chapter 91.
The third comment was a suggestion to remove Amplification III, which deals with the creation of a view corridor on Elm Street.
CZM and DEP stated no issues about what is outlined in Amplification III, but that it falls outside of the jurisdictional boundaries of Chapter 91. The agencies repeatedly emphasized they are only concerned with things that fall under Chapter 91ís jurisdictions.
The final piece of the feedback is the most impactful, with the potential to limit what can be done with the properties in the Harbor Village Business Overlay District.
Within the Harbor Plan, there is a proposed "Substitution and Offset" section calling for land designated for public use to be used for residential units ("Facilities of Private Tenancy"), if an equivalent piece of land elsewhere is returned for public use.†
In Cohasset Hospitality Partnersí proposal for the Cohasset Harbor Inn site, one plan intended to make use of this substitution policy, hoping to create a less abstract space for apartment buildings.
However, CZM and DEP deemed this section problematic and requested its removal from the Harbor Plan.
In their meeting, town officials were informed that there were two issues regarding the Substitution and Offset section.
First, Facilities of Public Accommodation are not allowed to be located outside of the jurisdictional boundaries of Chapter 91. The appropriate agencies are not able to regulate land outside of said boundaries, and thus, such a trade-off cannot be made.
Secondly, the parcel of land in question is situated on filled tide lands. Per state regulations, so-called "Facilities of Private Tenancy" cannot be located on the ground floor of a building on filled tide lands within 100 feet of a seawall.
As a result, CZM and DEP have requested the removal of Amplification III and the Substitution and Offset section of the Harbor Plan.
Those removals have been made in the latest version of the document, which is currently in the process of being vetted by the appropriate town parties.
The last steps before submitting a final draft back to CZM include a recommendation made by the Planning Board, which is set to come on either March 4 or March 18, per Lind. From there, a public hearing run by the board of selectmen is required before submission.
With the appropriate edits made, the expectation is that the Harbor Plan is finally ready to enter the state approval process.