SECTION 1. Notwithstanding chapter 40A, section 13 of chapter 142, and chapter 164 of the General Laws, the State Building Code, the Fuel and Gas Code, or any other general or special law or regulation to the contrary, the Town of Lexington is hereby authorized to adopt and further amend general or zoning bylaws that restrict new building construction or major renovation projects that do not qualify as fossil fuel-free.
SECTION 2. Notwithstanding section 7 of chapter 40A of the General Laws, or any other general or special law or regulation to the contrary, the Building Commissioner of the town of Lexington, or their designee, shall be authorized to enforce restrictions on new building construction and major renovation projects that do not qualify as fossil fuel-free, including through the withholding or conditioning of building permits.
SECTION 3. As used in this act, the term “fossil fuel-free” shall mean new building construction or major renovation that results in an entire building or an entire condominium unit that does not utilize coal, oil, natural gas other fuel hydrocarbons (including synthetic equivalents), or other fossil fuels in support of its operation after construction.
SECTION 4. This act shall take effect upon its passage. Any bylaw previously approved by the Lexington Town Meeting consistent with Sections 1 through 3 of this Act, including, without limitation Chapter 106 of the Code of the Town of Lexington as enacted by the 2021 Lexington Town Meeting, is hereby ratified.
SECTION 5. If any provision or section of this act is invalidated, the remainder shall survive in full force and effect. And further, that the Code of the Town of Lexington be amended by adding a new Chapter 106, “Regulating Fossil Fuel Infrastructure in Buildings”, as follows:
REGULATING FOSSIL FUEL INFRASTRUCTURE IN BUILDINGS
Section 1. Purpose
This Bylaw is adopted by the Town of Lexington to protect health, safety, and the natural environment and reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, which causes climate change, thereby threatening the Town and its inhabitants.
Section 2. Definitions
“Effective Date” shall mean December 1, 2022, or six months following the date by which the Town is authorized by the Massachusetts General Court to regulate fossil fuel infrastructure, whichever is later.
“New Building” shall mean a new building or new accessory building, as defined in the Lexington Zoning Bylaw, Chapter 135 of the Code of the Town of Lexington, associated with a building permit application filed on or after the Effective Date.
“On-Site Fossil Fuel Infrastructure” shall mean piping for fuel gas, fuel oil, or other fuel hydrocarbons, including synthetic equivalents, that is in a building, in connection with a building, or otherwise within the property lines of a premises, extending from a supply tank or from the point of delivery behind a gas meter or the customer-side of a gas meter.
“Major Renovation” shall mean a project associated with a valid building permit application filed on or after the Effective Date of this article that:
for existing structures regulated by the current edition of the International Residential Code as amended by 780 CMR 51: Massachusetts Residential Code, includes the reconfiguration of space and/or building systems, in which the Work Area, not including any added space, is more than 75% of the Gross Floor Area of the principal dwelling, as defined in the Lexington Zoning Bylaw, prior to the project; and
for existing structures regulated by the current edition of the International Building Code as amended by 780 CMR 34: Massachusetts Commercial Code, includes the reconfiguration of space and/or building systems, in which the Work Area, not including any added space, is more than 50% of the building floor area prior to the project, as defined by the Massachusetts Building Code.
“Work Area” shall mean the portions of a building affected by renovations for the reconfiguration of space or building systems, as shown in the drawings included with a building permit application. Areas consisting of only repairs, refinishing, or incidental work not associated with the renovations or reconfiguration for which a building permit is required are excluded from the Work Area.
Section 3. Applicability
This Chapter shall apply to all building permit applications for New Buildings and Major Renovations proposed to be located in whole or in part within the Town, except that this Chapter shall not apply to:
A.utility service piping connecting the grid to a meter, or to a gas meter itself;
B.piping required to:
i.fuel backup electrical generators, indoor or outdoor cooking appliances, indoor or outdoor fireplaces or fire features, or appliances for outdoor heating; or
ii. produce potable or domestic hot water from centralized hot water systems in commercial buildings with building floor areas of at least 10,000 square feet, provided that the Engineer of Record certifies that no commercially available electric hot water heater exists that could meet the required hot water demand for less than 150% of installation or operational costs, compared to a conventional fossil fuel hot water system;
C.the extension or modification of heating systems via HVAC system modification, or modification of radiator, steam, or hot water piping, provided new fossil fuel piping is not installed;
D.life science buildings, research laboratories for scientific or medical research or medical offices regulated by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health as a healthcare facility; or
E.repairs of any existing portions of a fuel piping system deemed unsafe or dangerous by the Plumbing and Gas Fitting Inspector.
Section 4. Enforcement
A.On and after the Effective Date, no building permit shall be issued by the Town for the construction of New Buildings or Major Renovations that include the installation of new On-Site Fossil Fuel Infrastructure subject to this Chapter.
B.The Town Manager, or their designee, shall publish and present an annual report to the Select Board quantifying the number and location of building permit applications for new and major renovation projects exceeding 50% of the original gross floor area of the principal dwelling; the number of new and major renovation projects requesting a waiver from this Chapter, the disposition of those waivers, the reasons for granting or denying those waivers and the square footage of each project for which a waiver is granted.
C.The Select Board may adopt additional requirements, exemption, and regulations to implement or enforce said new fossil fuel infrastructure restrictions in major construction, consistent with this Chapter.
Section 5. Waivers
A.The Building Commissioner may grant a waiver from the requirements of this Chapter in the event that compliance with the provisions of this Chapter makes a project financially infeasible or impractical to implement. Compliance with this Chapter may be considered infeasible if, without limitation:
i.as a result of factors beyond the control of the proponent, the additional cost of the project over the long term, including any available subsidies, would make the project commercially unviable; or
ii.technological or other factors would make the project unsuitable for its intended purpose.
B.Waivers from compliance with this Chapter may be subject to reasonable conditions. Where possible, waivers shall be issued for specific portions of a project that are financially infeasible or impractical to implement under the requirements of this Chapter, rather than entire projects.
C.Waiver requests shall be supported by a detailed cost comparison, including available rebates and credits. A waiver request may be made at any time and may be based upon submission of conceptual plans.
D.In considering a request for a waiver, the Building Commissioner may consider as a factor the requesting party’s status as a non-profit or government-sponsored affordable housing entity.
E.The Building Commissioner’s decision with respect to the granting of a waiver, the scope thereof, and any conditions imposed by a waiver, shall be appealable to the Select Board, or its designee, within thirty (30) days in accordance with policies established by the Select Board.
F.The Select Board shall, prior to the Effective Date issue, and may thereafter amend, guidance regarding the process for requesting and granting waivers, and describing reasonable conditions that may be placed on a waiver.
Section 6. Appeals
The Select Board, or its designee, shall hear appeals from decisions of the Building Commissioner under this Chapter.
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