||Save Our Heritage|
Protecting the Birthplace of the American Revolution,
the cradle of the Environmental Movement,
and the Home of the American Literary Renaissance
Mass Dept of Environmental Protection
reviews Jet Aviation project
MassDEP (Department of Environment Protection) recently conducted a site visit at Hanscom Civil Airport in connection with Jet Aviationís expansion proposal.
A group of Lincoln citizens earlier filed an appeal with MassDEP, asking it to overturn the townís approval of Jet Aviationís request. They expressed concern that the companyís plans for expanding facilities to service large, private jets, Gulfstream 650s, would mean building more than two acres of new impervious surface on Lincoln wetlands buffer zones.
Jet Aviation has declined to comment on the appeal, citing pending litigation.
In attendance at the site visit were the applicants and appellants, with their respective legal and environmental advisors, along with members of the Lincoln Conservation Commission, as well as representatives from two local citizens preservation and environmental groups, Save Our Heritage and ShhAir. In addition, Sen. Mike Barrett, D-Lexington, attended, as did the chief of staff, Sean Fitzgerald, for Rep. Jay Kaufman, D-Lexington, both on behalf of Hanscom-area citizens.
The site visit was part of the ongoing appeal, filed on May 27 by concerned Lincoln residents, which challenges the Jet Aviation plans on the legal grounds that neither Jet Aviation nor Massport are immune from Lincoln wetlands bylaws, and on the environmental grounds that the Jet Aviation plans do not protect nor promote the continuing viability of the resource area in question under the state Wetlands Act.
MassDEP acting deputy regional director Rachel Freed led the site visit. After hearing from both sides and a walk on the grounds, which included wetlands, meadows and woods, Freed said, "The first order of business is for the DEP legal team to resolve the legal issues raised concerning Massportís and Jet Aviationís immunity to the local bylaw... In order to avoid any unnecessary delays, I will evaluate the wetlands issues raised here in parallel to the legal examination."
Freed said these reviews would likely take several weeks.
Freed also revealed that preliminary research by a DEP attorney had uncovered a filing by Massport under a Bedford local bylaw for a project at Hanscom in April 2006. If this finding stands up to further investigation, it could affect the Jet Aviation proposal and, according to appellants, boost their case.
Jet Aviation has argued that Massport, as a state agency, is exempt from local bylaws and that this exemption extends to Jet Aviation as Massportís tenants. But some residents of Hanscom-area towns, which include Lincoln, Concord, Bedford and Lexington, have argued that acceptance could set a dangerous precedent leading to future scenarios where any tenant of Massport at Hanscom Civil Airport could claim immunity from local regulations and local control.