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Clean Water in Real Estate Development


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A presentation about clean water in real estate development. Presented by Pallavi Kalia Mande with the Charles River Watershed Association during the Buzzards Bay Coalition's 2014 Decision Makers Workshop series. Learn more at

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Clean Water in Real Estate Development

  1. 1. Clean Water in Real Estate Development April 2, 2014 Kurt Gaertner Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs The State’s Open Space Design / Natural Resource Protection Model Zoning & Water Resource Protection in Suburban & Rural Areas
  2. 2. Land Use Priority Plans competedas of January 2014:
  3. 3. 3
  4. 4. “Conventional” Planning & Design • Generally involves larger lots • Style of suburban development over the past 50 years • Clearing and grading of significant portions of a site • Wider streets and larger cul-de-sacs • Enclosed drainage systems for stormwater conveyance • Large detention ponds Conventional Development Smart Development Less land clearing and grading costs Reduced infrastructure costs Protection of regional water quality Reduced stormwater runoff Loss of natural land or open space Depleted drinking water supply Reduced quantity and quality of water resources Increased infrastructure costs & maintenance
  5. 5. The Principles are intended to guide state & local actions Sustainable Development Principles 1. Concentrate Development and Mix Uses 2. Advance Equity 3. Make Efficient Decisions 4. Protect Land and Ecosystems 5. Use Natural Resources Wisely 6. Expand Housing Opportunities 7. Provide Transportation Choice 8. Increase Job and Business Opportunities 9. Promote Clean Energy 10. Plan Regionally
  6. 6. Problems with current practice: • Special Permit Required – Discretionary • Process often cumbersome, long, & expensive • Large parcel size requirements • Insufficient amount of land protected • Less than ideal land conservation • Dimensional standards inhibit use Open Space Design • By Right/Mandatory • Formulaic and quick • No minimum lot size • [60%] of land area protected • Strategic protection via Conservation Analysis & Findings • Flexible Design Standards – lot size, frontage, setbacks, roads, etc.
  7. 7. New Model Open Space Design Bylaw/Ordinance • Based on Natural Resource Protection Zoning • Accompanied by subdivision regulations & special permit regulations for density bonuses and shared driveways • Replaced the OSRD model in EEA’s Smart Growth/Smart Energy Toolkit • Addresses problems with application of Cluster, OSRD, Conservation Subdivision zoning • Formatted to be easily customized, though municipal counsel should be consulted • Interaction with other local regulations must be considered (esp. Board of Health) • Addresses process questions raised by the Wall Street v. Westwood decision
  8. 8. • • Website that is user friendly, comprehensive, and MA focused • Integrated materials on each smart growth technique to promote understanding and local passage of new zoning bylaws • Case studies show real world implementation, many in Massachusetts communities
  9. 9. Why did EEA develop this bylaw and why does it want communities to adopt it? • Reduced environmental and fiscal impact o Reduced costs to construct/maintain roads and infrastructure o Less impervious surface and runoff o Protection of water supplies, habitat, greenways, productive forest, agriculture, etc. • Advances EEA objectives while providing housing and treating landowners equitably 100 acre wooded site with field, stream, and trail before development Two-acre zoning; conventional subdivision Natural Resource Protection Zoning (>75% preservation) Images from “NRPZ – The Green Side of Smart Growth” by Lacy, Ritchie, & Russell
  10. 10. Yield: Allowable Residential Units • Units calculated by dividing the net acreage by the allowed density • Net acreage calculation accounts for site-specific development limitations Net Acreage Calculation To determine net acreage, subtract the following from the total (gross) site acreage: [Half] of the acreage of land with slopes of [20%] or greater; [The total acreage] of land subject to easements or restrictions prohibiting development, lakes, ponds, vernal pools, 100-year floodplains as most recently delineated by FEMA, Zone I and A around public water supplies, and all wetlands as defined in Chapter 131, Section 40 of the General Laws and any state or local regulations adopted there under, as delineated by an accredited wetlands specialist and approved by the Conservation Commission; and [Ten] percent of the remaining site acreage after the areas of A and B are removed to account for subdivision roads and infrastructure. Note: Does not account for wastewater disposal Unit Count Calculation • Divide the net acreage by the required acreage (allowed density) for a unit • Allowed density can vary by zoning district
  11. 11. Applicability: • Allowed by right – permitted via subdivision or site plan review • Required in designated districts, permitted elsewhere • Local choice as to which districts and which housing types • Conventional subdivisions are by special permit • Could also be applied to non-residential development Dimensional Requirements: Goal: Make it as easy as possible to conserve land and natural resources by arranging units/lots in as unconstrained a manner as practicable
  12. 12. Open Space: • Permanently conserves [60%] of land area • Required % may be reduced by up to [10%] for land devoted to common water or wastewater infrastructure; this land must be subject to a Restrictive Covenant • Preserved open space required to be contiguous to the greatest extent practicable • Protection under Article 97 or a permanent Chapter 184 type restriction required o Restrictive Covenant under Chapter 184 required if CR not accepted o CR must specify permitted and prohibited uses consistent with the zoning • Allowable and Prohibited Uses addressed in detail o Alternate language provided to address active and motorized recreation o Small portion [5%] may be paved/built on consistent with open space use • Submission requirements specify provision of a Conservation Analysis as per the Subdivision Regulations
  13. 13. Subdivision Regulations: Design Process: Landscape architect or other design professional must follow a prescriptive Conservation Analysis based process: 1. Informational meeting encouraged to discuss conservation & development priorities 2. Conservation Analysis delineates Primary and Secondary Conservation Areas • Contiguity requirement; can be waived 3. Written Conservation Findings specify areas to preserve and develop 4. Subdivision laid out within the Developable Area 5. Planning Board decision; incorporates Conservation Findings
  14. 14. Conservation Analysis and Findings • Identify conservation value areas on the site such as wetlands, significant trees or tracts of forest, steep slopes, habitat, cultural resources or buffer zones. Remove these from the “developable area” • Place houses and roads in the developable area • Memorialize with “conservation findings” incorporated into the subdivision approval
  15. 15. Open Space Plans should guide land conservation in subdivisions
  16. 16. LID Site Design • Conservation of natural hydrology, trees, and vegetation • Minimized impervious surfaces • Dispersal of stormwater runoff • Conservation of stream & wetland buffers • Ecological landscaping #1 AVOID IMPACTS – Preserve Natural Features #2 REDUCE IMPACTS – Reduce Impervious Cover #3 MANAGE IMPACTS – Use Natural Features & Low-Impact Techniques to Manage Stormwater
  17. 17. Site Design Practices • Reduce storm pipes, curbs and gutters • Preserve sensitive soils • Cluster buildings and reduce building footprints • Reduce road widths • Minimize grading • Limit lot disturbance • Reduce impervious surfaces
  18. 18. Source: R. Claytor Source: City of Portland, OR Source: CWP Better Site Design on Roadways and Driveways • Narrower streets • Alternative cul-de-sacs • Shared driveways
  19. 19. Narrow Street 14 houses $24,200 to repave $1,700/house Wide Street 9 houses $40,400 to repave $4,500/house
  20. 20. Vegetated Swales Conveyance, Treatment, Infiltration • Roadside swales (“country drainage”) for lower density and small-scale projects • For small parking lots • Mild side slopes & flat longitudinal slopes • Provides area for snow storage & snowmelt treatment Fully Grown
  21. 21. Rain Gardens/Bioretention
  22. 22. Bioretention Schematic Planting Soil - Primarily Sand Underdrain System Vegetation on Surface Runoff
  23. 23. LID Model Bylaw • Provides incentive for conservation site planning • “Stormwater Credits” reduce the size and number of conventional practices • Requirement to treat stormwater • Expands upon Massachusetts Stormwater Policy by including all land areas (beyond Wetland Protection Act jurisdiction)
  24. 24. Model Stormwater Bylaw 1. Purpose and Intent 2. Authority 3. Scope and Applicability 4. Definitions 5. Administration 6. Permit Procedures and Requirements 7. Performance Standards: LID Criteria 8. Enforcement 9. Surety 10. Construction Inspections 11. Certificate of Completion 12. Perpetual Inspection and Maintenance Appendix A: Example System of LID Credits and Incentives
  25. 25. Integrated Stormwater Management Design Objectives • Runoff reduction • Groundwater recharge • Water quality mitigation • Channel erosion protection • Overbank and extreme flood protection
  26. 26. Kurt Gaertner 617-626-1154 Contact Information :