Millennium Partners has filed plans with the City of Boston and the state Executive Office of Environmental Affairs to build a 50-story tower over the Massachusetts Turnpike at the corner of Boylston Street and Mass Ave. (across from Tower Records). "Boylston Place" would include a 250-room hotel; 110 extended-stay apartments for corporate executives; 250 condos; a 3,600-seat movie theater and retail space. The project would total over 1,000,000 square feet.
Because part of the project would be built on air rights over the turnpike, there will be an extensive regulatory review in which your voice can be heard. This guide explains how to make your opinions known to the people who will decide if and how the project gets built.
What you think about this counts with state and city regulators. Even if you've already spoken about the plan at the Citizens Advisory Committee meetings, you should file comments during this important review process. The review may include a public hearing where it will be vital for interested citizens to speak but your written comments will carry The most weight in shaping the review.
The Millennium proposal will face two reviews ---- one conducted by the City and one by the State. Both offer an opportunity for you to participate.
Although the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) lacks many of its usual zoning powers Over the air rights part of this project, an agreement between the Turnpike Authority and the City of Boston sets up a review process based on the large-project reviews that normally take place under Article 80 of Boston's zoning code.
When it filed a Project Notification Form (PNP) on June, Millennium set this process in motion. The public has until September 29th to comment on weather a full review is needed and to suggest, what the what the "scope" of such a review should be --- that is, what kinds of traffic, shadow, design and other issues the developer has to document before the BRA issues a final judgment. If you wish to ensure that a particular issue, impact or alternative is studied in this process, it's essential that you submit written comments to the BRA during this period. State your concern clearly and concisely in your own words.
The Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) is a powerful tool for citizen input on development projects. It creates a process for environmental review of projects involving a state agency or authority, and it requires such agencies to use all feasible means to avoid --- or at least minimize and mitigate --- damage to the environment. Millennium filed an Environmental Notification Form (ENF, which is similar to a PNF) with the Secretary of environmental affairs, also on June 23. That kicked off the MEPA process.
The comments received by the Secretary in response to the ENF will shape the scope of the MEPA review and define the issues examined during the process. The secretary can, for example, define "alternative" versions of the project and require that they be studied as thoroughly as the proposed development itself.
As with the city's process, if you wish to ensure that a particular issue, impact or alternative is studied, it's essential that you submit written comments to the Secretary before September 29th (you can file the same comments with the BRA and the MEPA). State your concerns clearly and concisely in your own words.
Comments generally cover the impacts of a project or the alternatives it should be compared to. In discussing impacts, focus on the issues you feel other people may not raise, that you believe require more study, that you feel are of special importance, or issues about which you have special knowledge. Here are some examples, but don't avoid raising other issues simply because they are not on the list:
Here are examples of alternatives that you may wish to suggest in your comments:
- TRANSPORTATION: What impact will this project have on the MBTA? How will it affect traffic and parking? Pedestrians? Bicyclists? will delivery trucks and other vehicles serving the project alter the air quality in general? At particular locations?
- URBAN DESIGN: Is this project consistent with the urban design principles adopted by the city and other regulatory bodies? How will this affect light? Wind? The appearance of the surrounding neighborhoods? Will it have an impact on historic or unique buildings in the area?
- INFRASTRUCTURE: You can request that the developer be directed to study any aspect of the area (water pressure, noise, congestion, groundwater levels) that you feel would be degraded or improved by the proposal.
- DIFFERENT PHYSICAL CONFIGURATIONS: You may wish to ask for analysis of different project configurations, including changes in height, square footage, amount of open space, and parking. Make you comments as specific and clear as possible. Give the Secretary of Environmental Affairs clear guidance on the alternatives he should require the developer to study in the Environmental Impact Report.
- DIFFERENT USES: You may wish to see an alternative that adds to or cuts the project's residential, hotel, movie theater or other uses. Again be as clear and specific as you can.
- DIFFERENT FINANCIAL/REGULATOR CONSTRAINTS: The Millennium Partners, proposal reflects the terms of the business deal between Millennium and the Turnpike Authority. You may ask for analysis of how the project would look (height, size, traffic generation, and so on) if the terms of this agreement were changed. You may ask for an analysis of an alternative that conforms to Boston zoning for the site for for the adjacent blocks.
- DIFFERENT PROPOSALS: You may wish to request that an entirely different proposal be studied as an alternative. For example, you could ask for evaluation of alternatives that reflect concepts presented by Goody Clancy & associates, the proposal put forth in June by Berklee College, or a project that embodies the guidelines developed in community meetings held by the Citizens for Reasonable Turnpike Development.
Public comments on the Boylston Square project must refer to the EOEA file number (11969) Send them to these two offices by September 29th:
Hon. Robert A. Durand, Secretary
Executive Office of Environmental Affairs
Attn: MEPA Office
Arthur S. Pugsley IV, EOEA No. 11969
100 Cambridge Street - 20th Floor
Boston, MA 02202
Thomas N. O'Brien, Director
Boston Redevelopment Authority
One City Hall Square - 9th Floor
Boston, MA 02201
You should also send copies of your comments to:
Millennium Partners - Boston
75 Arlington Street
Boston, MA 02116
Attn: A. Pangaro/ J. Larkin/ J. Breiteneicher
Mr. James Kerasiotes, Chairman
Massachusetts Turnpike Authority
10 Park Plaza (Suite 4160)
Boston, MA 02116
Again, comments must be received by MEPA and the BRA before 5:00 p.m. on September 29, but there is no reason to wait until then to send them. For more information, contact Carol Dane at the Conservation Law Foundation, 350-0990. If you would like a copy of Millennium's ENF/PNF filing (it's a book about 1.6 inches thick), call Rose Folan at MDA associates/Millennium Partners, 451-0300.
Citizens For Reasonable Turnpike Development
often referred to as CRTD, is a coalition of residents and organizations from the Fenway and Back Bay. CRTD believes development of Turnpike air rights --- at any point in Boston ---- must respect and reflect the communities in which it is built. For information on our work, a copy of our design guidelines, or to make a donation in support of your neighborhood, write us c/o NABB, 337 Newbury Street, Boston, MA 02115