Chapter Ninety-One

Most of you are probably unaware of something called Chapter 91. For Massachusetts, it essentially means that development along protected waterways is limited and public access to water must be incorporated into any designs* (if you can build at all).

If that was the case, I’d be for it 100%.

A court ruling has determined, though, that this legislation includes ANYTHING that is (or was) built on land that was once water-adjacent. This puts most of the Boston waterfront, South Boston, South End, Bay Bay, and Fenway on the list despite the fact that these areas were developed on landfill…in many cases over 150 years ago. That’s absurd, Washington Street in the South End was water (marsh) adjacent in the 1700’s…but hasn’t been for nearly two centuries. To consider any part of that neighborhood relevent in a discussion of a “waterfront” community is absurd.

The problem now is that there is a large development taking place along the Cambridge/Somerville/Boston border near Lechemere that is well inland. In fact, the land between it and the Charles River has been developed already (some as park land, some as offices, some as condos/apartments) and not a single corner of this plot of land touches any body of water. Yet this massive area of land, reclaimed from landfill generations ago currently sits as a weed infested, construction material strewn, wasteland. A development called North Point was planned and has begun construction. Currently 3 condo/apartment buildings are 90% complete and future development is planned for retail, a relocated subway stop, condos, apartments and an enormous central park.

But that’s now on hold because some stupid Cambridge NIMBY’s (stands for “Not In My Back Yard”…meaning people who refuse to let anything get built…ever) have won in court by claiming that this is “protected land” in accordance with Chapter 91.

Great! In an area in dire need of more housing an enormous swath of land that is currently useless and all but abandoned will get to remain just that: useless and abandoned. I may not have liked the design of NorthPoint (it was too reminiscent of Charles River Park for me), but it would still benefit the community/cities.

I read that the governor is getting involved. Not just for NorthPoint but for any other development that could take place in downtown Boston since a good chunk of that land (even if 1/2 mile inland) could be considered within the jurisdiction of Chapter 91.

In lighter news – (stop bitching, Karl), I fixed my most recent iPod problem thanks to the tech-saavy brilliance of Keith! WOO HOO If anybody has problems with artists appearing multiple times on your iPod, check out his comment from a few days back! You rock, Keith!


*I’m not a developer or lawyer…and what I know is simply based on articles in newspapers and online chatboards. I do NOT claim to have a complete understanding of Chapter 91.


  1. Comment by Jeff on May 23, 2007 12:04 pm

    Hey I actually know about Chapter 91, but that’s part of my job. I haven’t had to work with it much, but I do know it can be one hell of a mess.

  2. Comment by Brad on May 23, 2007 12:19 pm

    Welcome to the People’s Republic of Cambridge!

  3. Comment by keith on May 25, 2007 2:04 pm

    Glad it worked darlin’. But as I type this you’re in another time zone already, so godspeed!

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