| ||2001 ANNUAL REPORT|
Devens Enterprise Commission
The Devens Enterprise Commission (DEC) is a regulatory and permit granting authority for the Devens Development Project. It is empowered to act as a local planning board, conservation commission, board of health, zoning board of appeals, historic district commission and, in certain instances, as a board of selectmen. It carries out these duties in the context of a unique and innovative one-stop, or unified permitting system, which greatly streamlines the local regulatory process. The DEC consists of 12 gubernatorial appointees, six (6) of whom are nominated by the host communities of Ayer, Harvard and Shirley. Each host community also nominates an alternate member. The Commission began operating on June 22, 1995. DEC Commission members currently include Murray Clark, Jr., Jim DeZutter, Stephen L. Gervais, William Marshall (Chairman), David McKeehan, Charles McKinney, Lisa McLaughlin, John Rounds, Phillip Sidney, Paul Routhier, Paul Von Loesecke (Vice-Chairman), Martin Wallace (alternate), and Paul V. Johnson (alternate). DEC staff include Director/Land Use Administrator Peter C. Lowitt, Staff Planner Sharon Wason and Administrative Assistant Mary Quinn plus a number of consultants.
The DEC was deeply saddened to loose Hermann Field, a long time Commissioner and father of the Sustainability movement at Devens. Mr. Field passed in March of 2001 shortly after receiving word that he had been inducted into the Fellowship of American Institute of Certified Planners. Mary Padula announced her decision to step down from the DEC in mid-summer and her spot remains vacant. Mr. John Rounds of Shirley was appointed to take Mr. Fields place on the Commission. His alternate spot remains vacant at this point in time.
For those of you wishing to keep current with events at Devens, please utilize our new web site, www.devensec.com, which received over 80,000 hits during 2001, our initial year of operation for the site. The purpose of this web site is to provide transparency for the DEC and to communicate how it reaches its decisions, provide accurate information regarding its regulations and processes, and communicate more effectively with the citizens of our host communities of Ayer, Harvard and Shirley. Other DEC duties include the provision of inspectional services which are ably conducted by Gabe Vallente, Wellman Parker and Bob Freidrichs. Our legal and engineering assistance are covered by contractual relationships with consultants.
The DEC completed its Five Year Review in December of 2000 and collaborated with the Joint Boards of Selectmen and Mass Development while they finished their Five Year Reviews. The DEC focussed on maintaining an efficient and proactive regulatory and inspectional role at Devens. Devens was very much a hard hat area during 2001 with much of the projects permitted in 2000 and the first half of 2001 being constructed during the year. Devens welcomed its first official residents and has begun the transition from a Planned Business Community to a Planned Community. The DEC hosted an Eco-Industrial Development Roundtable at Devens in November, 2001 spoke to numerous groups on the DEC's Sustainable Devens initiatives.
The first half of 2001 saw the DEC operating in its permitting function, issuing 14 Level II Unified Permits during this period and 183 building permits (level I Permits) for the entire year. The large number of Level I permits reflects the 100+ units of housing coming on line. Each unit received a separate permit.
DEC GOALS REVIEWED
In December of 2001 the DEC reviewed its own goals and objectives and evaluated them. They are listed below:
Achieve Financial Self Sufficiency:
The DEC will work over the next year to establish a municipal service fee and other appropriate mechanisms to assure its financial self sufficiency as this is the last fiscal year the DEC will receive fiscal appropriations from the legislature.
During the past year the DEC hired Clayton Carlisle to develop a draft DEC Municipal Service Fee proposal and established policies to support this proposal. The DEC met with Mass Development and reached consensus on proceeding jointly to the Department of Revenue and Administration and Finance for assistance with our respective Municipal Service Fee programs. Mass Development has agreed to handle to revenue collection/assessment end of the operation to avoid having Devens firms receive multiple tax (MSF) bills from multiple agencies. With the anticipated acceptance of Mass Development's MSF scheme by its Board of Directors later this month the stage is set for the DEC and Mass Development to meet with DOR in January, 2002 and then to meet with A&F for assistance with our financing program. We have made significant progress towards achieving our goal of financial self-sufficiency during this past year. We took control of the program by hiring Mr. Carlisle and developing our own Service Fee program. This gave Mass Development and the DEC something concrete to work with and moved the process along. Our legislative delegation was presented our program last spring and worked to assist us in our early negotiations with Mass Development. We wish to thank them for their continued support.
Actively Participate in the Five Year Review:
The DEC has completed a great deal of work as part of its legislatively mandated Five Year Review. The DEC will submit this work to the legislature, the communities, Mass Development and other interested parties. It will concurrently and cooperatively work with the Joint Boards of Selectmen to have input in their Five Year Review process. The DEC will pay special attention and focus its resources on areas that need more thorough planning work such as the North Post area, Special Use zones, Business Services District and Environmental Business Zone.
The DEC was the first agency to complete its Five Year Review, last December, 2000, and actively participated in meetings with the JBOS and Mass Development as they completed their Five Year Review programs. Currently the DEC is working with the JBOS to initiate further meetings to implement the consensus recommendations of the various Five Year Review Committees and to reach consensus on the remaining issues. The DEC undertook to hire Oxbow Associates, an environmental consulting firm, to further inventory natural resources within the North Post area. This project was completed in the spring and the results posted to our web site.
The DEC will continue to work to maintain its identity as an entity separate from Mass Development and it will work to maintain open and clear communications with the communities and Mass Development.
The DEC added our legislative delegation and our host communities to its mailing list for our monthly Director's Updates to keep interested parties informed about our progress at and issues of concern at Devens. Our web site was updated and new information placed on it to better inform the public about recent events and meetings at Devens. Our Spill and Pollution Prevention Control and Countermeasure Plan was placed on the web site as well as the updated Regional Trail Plan. Staff also participated in Communities Connected By Water Planning meetings and attended various community events on behalf of the DEC. Our web site had over 78,000 hits during 2001. It is being well utilized.
The DEC will assume a leadership position in the area of sustainability at Devens. It will work actively to implement sustainability goals and use sustainability criteria as a decision making tool. This work will include the areas of transportation and environmental protection as well as ecological industrial development.
The DEC maintained and enhanced its leadership role in the area of sustainability by adopting a Green Building Incentive Grant Program and hosting an international meeting of the Eco-industrial Roundtable here at Devens November 4-5, 2001. The Green Building Incentive Grant Program is linked to the US Green Building Council's LEED (Leading Energy Efficiency and Design) Certification program. Once a building at Devens becomes LEED Certified it is eligible to receive a grant of up to 15% of the cost of its Unified Permit Fee, or up to $10,000. Our efforts to instigate Transportation Demand Management programs at Devens have born fruit with Mass Development signing a contract with Transaction Associates to create a Devens area TMA. The DEC is a partner in the project, funding $10,000 of the $50,000 per year contract. The DEC also spearheaded the Reverse Commute group which has worked effectively to link the Boston Regional Planning Commission (Metropolitan Area Planning Commission) with the Montachusetts RPA and communities along I-495 around the issue of improve rail service on the Fitchburg Line. The DEC conducted a feasibility study and subsequently applied for funding from DEP and other agencies to launch its Devens Eco Star program. The Devens Eco Star Program builds on our progress to date in introducing the concept of industrial ecology to Devens. It envisions a collaboration between the businesses at Devens, our host communities and environmental groups with a steering committee establishing eighteen different environmental criteria. Once twelve of these criteria have been achieved (including six core criteria) then the firm is publicly recognized as a Devens Eco Star company. We develop educational programs to assist the firms in achieving there criteria and provide workshops on how to implement them every other month or so. We have recently scheduled a meeting with DEP in anticipation of receiving partial funding for this important program.
Legislative and Legal Issues:
The DEC will explore its role under Chapter 498 (the enabling act) and how the enabling act interacts with other state statutes.
The DEC had our legal counsel, Ms. Edith Netter attend our July meeting to discuss the role of the DEC under Chapter 498 and how this statute interacts with other Mass General Laws. This issue was successfully addressed.
Mass Development Relationship:
The DEC's relationship with Mass Development remains an important one. The need for clear open communications between these entities as well as with the communities is needed. It is important for the DEC to establish its role at Devens in the absence of a full complement of staff within Mass Development and to work with the communities on developing an exit strategy for Mass Development's eventual departure.
With the changeover in operational control at Devens with Mr. Burke and Ms. Delorier communications between Mass Development and the DEC have improved greatly. Ms. Delorier has attended most if not all of the DEC meetings providing the type of representation which was sorely missing in the past. The DEC has worked hard to maintain good relations with Mass Development as well, partnering with them in the TMA project and working for the common good on various projects like the Regional Trail Plan. We will continue to work in areas which are of mutual benefit to both organizations.
DEC COMMISSIONERS RECOGNIZED
DEC commissioner Hermann Field received the highest award given in the area of planning being named a Fellow of the American Institute of Certified Planners for his years of service as a planning educator and practitioner, including for his work in sustainability and his role as a DEC Commissioner. DEC Director Peter C. Lowitt, chair of the Economic Development Division of the American Planning Association, was invited by the New Zealand Economic Development Association to speak in Napier New Zealand last March. He has brought word of Devens to audiences in Denmark and Canada as well as to various audiences throughout the United States during the past year.
William Marshall, Chairman
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