Massachusetts Builders, NAHB Rein in a Federal Land Grab

Filed in Codes and Standards, Environment, Land Development, Legal by on November 9, 2017 1 Comment
nahb members

HBRAMA members and NAHB staff at Corps New England District Offices in August 2016. (From left: Jeffrey Brem, Curt Young, Jeff Augello, John Smolak, and Owen McDonough).

Last summer, the Army Corps of Engineers proposed a rule that would have illegally expanded Clean Water Act jurisdiction to include 900,000 acres of dry land in Massachusetts.

The proposal would have required Massachusetts builders and developers to notify the Corps and mitigate any environmental impacts when working within a 750-foot buffer surrounding isolated, seasonal ponds called vernal pools.

There are nearly 37,000 vernal pools across Massachusetts, and conservative estimates indicate 17% of the commonwealth’s landmass falls within the proposed vernal pool buffer.

Supported by NAHB’s Legal Action Committee and State and Local Issues fund, the Home Builders and Remodelers Association of Massachusetts (HBRAMA) together with NAHB staff joined forces at Corps New England District Offices in August 2016 to fight this overreach.

A year later, after wending their way through the regulatory red tape, our combined efforts have paid off.

In response to our joint comments and analysis of the flawed proposal, the Corps has issued a revised version that removes the expansive and illegal vernal pool buffer requirements.

“This is truly an example of how a state association can work together with NAHB to produce some great results,” said John Smolak, chair of the HBRAMA Governmental Affairs Committee.

“Together, NAHB and HBRAMA reined in a federal land grab that would have placed nearly 1 million acres of dry land in Massachusetts under federal Clean Water Act control,” said Owen McDonough, NAHB Environmental Policy Program Manager.

For additional information, contact Owen McDonough, 202-266-8662 or Jeff Augello, 202-266-8490.

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