Preamble - Whereas, Massachusetts has approximately 192 miles of coastal shoreline, which provides incalculable benefits to the economy, character and quality of life for residents and visitors, and whereas changing climatological conditions and sea level rise directly threaten public and private property, infrastructure and natural resources and critical habitats, and whereas new and continuing threats demand innovative solutions, and whereas the possibility exists to develop and deploy such solutions using natural resources and processes, the legislature deems it necessary to enact the following legislation.
Section 1. There is hereby established the Massachusetts Coastal Erosion Innovation Center, whose purpose shall be to develop, identify, research, advance and deploy innovative means, methods, technologies and approaches for protecting and strengthening the resilience of the state's coastal shoreline, including but not limited to beaches, marshes, dunes and public and private property and infrastructure. The center shall be administered by the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, and shall consist of representatives of the Office of Coastal Zone Management, the Department of Environmental Protection, the Department of Conservation and Recreation, the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development, and the Executive Office of Administration and Finance, whom shall meet at intervals of not less than 6 months for the purposes set forth in Section 3 , provided that such meetings shall be open to public observation, provided further that the center may elect to receive written or oral testimony with proper notice given.
Section 2. In carrying out the provisions of this act, the center shall be advised by an advisory group appointed by the governor, comprised of 3 members representing municipal officials, selected from a list submitted by the Massachusetts Municipal Association, 3 members representing environmental advocacy organizations in the commonwealth, 3 members representing owners of coastal property in the commonwealth, 3 members whom shall have expertise in engineering, construction, or architecture, 1 member with expertise in coastal geology, and 2 members representing the taxpayers of the commonwealth. Said advisory group shall meet not less than every 3 months, and at the request of the Innovation Center, and shail be chaired by the Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs. The center shall also, to the greatest extent possible, consult and coordinate with the New England District of the United States Army Corps of Engineers.
Section 3. The center shall identify, develop, and research, in consultation with one or more institutions of higher learning or research in the commonwealth, innovative methods of protecting coastal resources, with prioritization for natural approaches such as thin layer marsh deposition, living shorelines, vegetation, eradication of invasive plant and shellfish species such as green crab, and any other relevant methodology. The center shall produce an annual report of its activities, which shall be filed with the clerks of the House and Senate , and posted electronically for public inspection.
Section 4. The center is hereby authorized and directed to receive applications for, and approve, applications for innovative pilot projects to protect coastal shorelines and/ or promote their resiliency, which may not otherwise be eligible for permitting. permits for such projects shall not exceed 20 in number in any given calendar year, and be for no longer than 3 years in duration, provided, however , that a permit may be extended for not more than an additional 3 years. In reviewing and granting such permits, the center shall consider the potential impact of a project, the size and scope of its potential benefits, its cost- effectiveness, and its consistency with state and federal regulations. The center shall consider applications made by applicants including but not limited to municipalities and regional groups of municipalities, non-profit organizations and research institutions, private property owners and collaborations thereof, and individuals. No application shall be approved unless it contains provisions for appropriate engineering and design, monitoring, and any restoration work necessary at the expiration of the resulting permit. Such permits shall be posted in a conspicuous location at the site of physical activity they authorize, and shall be posted electronically so as to enable public inspection. The department of environmental protection shall promulgate regulations to carry out the provisions of this section, which shall exist coterminously with the existence of the center.
Section 5. The provisions of this act shall expire on December 31, 2031, unless otherwise repealed, modified or extended.
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