It is essential to understand the context for requiring development mitigation. In 1966, the Home Rule Amendment was added to the Massachusetts Constitution. The Amendment created a limited home rule mechanism granting certain powers to cities and towns and enabled municipalities to adopt charters without needing state approval. The purpose of the Home Rule Amendment is to “grant and confirm to the people of every city and town the right of self-governance in local matters.” Although the Amendment does give municipalities the ability to adopt charters, state statutes can still preempt local laws.
There are also legal considerations involved in the design of development mitigation. First, a “rational nexus” must be demonstrated between the impacts caused by a development and the nature of the mitigation required. Second, there must be a “rough proportionality” between the extent of the impacts generated and the extent of the mitigation required. It must be shown that new development creates the need for mitigation. The Central Artery/Tunnel project or ‘Big Dig’ is an example of a transportation project that implemented various types of development mitigation. Read more about the Central Artery/Tunnel project’s mitigation programs.
With the context set, possible development mitigation strategies can be explored. It is critical that a community be explicit about their desired mitigation. This requires building relationships, multi-community coordination, and partnerships. Possible mitigation strategies fall into two main categories: Transportation Demand Management (TDM) and Transportation Infrastructure.
Impact Fees are another possible strategy, however at present, these fees are not expressly permitted in the state.