Today the House accepted the final Tidelands bill back from the Conference
Committee. This is a critical, although very technical, land-use regulatory
issue in current and former waterfront areas. I have written previously
about this issue.
As you may recall, back in July, I voted together with a substantial
minority against an earlier version of the bill. However, I was pleased
with the compromise that was worked out in conference and voted to support
it, as did most of my colleagues. The final vote was 147 to 3 in favor.
I had two concerns about the earlier version of the bill. First, there was
a local concern — as to how the bill would affect the victory that
Cambridge neighborhoods had won in the Northpoint case. That concern became
substantially moot as the partners leading the Northpoint project have had a
falling out and the project is undoubtedly going to change and face further
Second, I was troubled by a confusing new agency regulatory structure that
was included in the last version of the bill. The final bill represents a
very creative compromise between the House and Senate versions. It does not
add a new agency, but does add substantial new protections for tidelands as
part of the normal environmental impact review process. The new protections
are better than existing law and much better than the July version of the
The conference committee negotiations were long and difficult, extending for
almost three months. Credit for a successful resolution goes to all
involved, but on the House side especially to Environment Committee Chairman
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