Attorney Blog

New Developments in Environmental Law

Attorney Gregor McGregor Presents on the Public Lands Preservation Act (PLPA) at 2023 City & Town Counsel and Conservation Conferences Featured

Written by

Article 97 of the Amendments to the Massachusetts Constitution, approved by the voters in 1972, established a right to a clean environment including its natural, scenic, historical, and aesthetic qualities for the citizens of the Commonwealth.

This codified and expanded what the Legislature may enact as laws using the Police Power, and municipalities may enact as bylaws and ordinances using Home Rule.

Article 97 also declared the conservation of natural resources to be a public purpose, and provided that land, easements, or real property interests protected by Article 97, originally taken or acquired or subsequently dedicated to a natural resources purpose, shall not be used for other purposes or disposed of without a 2/3 roll call vote of both houses of the Legislature.

That part of Article 97 is a super-majority legislative check on changes of use or transfers of Article 97 protected properties. Over the years EOEEA has augmented Article 97 with its assessment program and review policy with the goal of "no net loss" of such land and water areas. Now these procedures and standards have been codified and augmented in the Public Lands Preservation Act (PLPA).

This new law took effect February 2023. Public and private landowners, property managers, facility operators, open space stewards, funding agencies, and the boards with care and control of "Article 97 Lands," and their legal counsel involved in projects and transfers, take note of the recent EOEEA Guidelines and Portal for proposals and submittals on "Article 97 Actions."

EOEEA shortly will issue the initial form for you to use to start the public notification, project proposal, natural resources evaluation, alternatives assessment, replacement lands, legislative drafting, and EOEEA findings and reasons needed for approval before passage. EOEEA eventually will promulgate its formal PLPA regulations due August 2024.

The firms founding partner, Gregor I. McGregor, will present a PowerPoint on Article 97 and the PLPA at the Massachusetts Municipal Lawyers Association (MMLA) Annual Meeting October 13 and Massachusetts Association of Conservation Commissions (MACC) Fall Conference October 28, 2023. Both events are at the Devens Enterprise Center at the Devens Regional Enterprise Zone in Devens, MA.

Mr. McGregor at both conferences will introduce as the principal speaker, Kurt Gaertner, EOEEA Assistant Secretary for Environmental Policy. In that capacity he is responsible for land use, land conservation, water resource, and other environmental policies and programs that seek to address climate change, promote sustainable development, and reduce land, energy, and natural resource consumption. Mr. Gaertner is in charge of PLPA implementation.

Mr. McGregor's PLPA PowerPoint is available on this site at Slide Shows.


Read 894 times Last modified onFriday, 13 October 2023 15:02
Gregor I. McGregor, Esq.

GREGOR I. McGREGOR, Esq. is the founder of New England’s oldest environmental law firm McGregor & Associates, PC in Boston, formed in 1975 and now McGregor Legere & Stevens,PC (formerly McGregor & Legere PC). The firm handles all aspects of environmental law, land use, real estate, and related litigation. The firm is a founding member of the Environmental Law Network (ELN), an alliance of specialty law firms, in the United States and abroad, sharing their legal expertise and practical experience for the benefit of their clients. Mr. McGregor enjoys Martindale-Hubbell’s highest rating for attorneys (AV).

In 45 years of environmental practice, Mr. McGregor's cases in court broke new ground in the law of Environmental Impact Statements under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA), wetland and floodplain protection under the Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act, hazardous waste cleanup liability and cost-recovery under the Massachusetts Superfund, reduced taxes and tax exemptions for qualified land conservation transactions, constitutional protections for open space and parkland, Home Rule environmental ordinances and bylaws of cities and towns, law enforcement and contempt remedies, and the constitutional doctrine of Regulatory Takings.

Before 1975, Mr. McGregor was an Assistant Attorney General of Massachusetts and the first chief of the Attorney General’s Division of Environmental Protection. In that capacity he advised and represented the Commonwealth during the formative years of Massachusetts environmental statutes, agencies, regulations, enforcement and cases in court.

Mr. McGregor is editor of the two-volume treatise on Massachusetts Environmental Law, published by Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education, Inc.(MCLE). He is co-chair of MCLE’s annual Environmental, Land Use, and Energy Law Conference and MCLE’s Real Estate and Environmental Law Curriculum Advisory Committee. He received from MCLE in 2013 its Scholar-Mentor Award recognizing his dedication to legal scholarship and leadership.

Mr. McGregor chairs the Environmental Committee of the Real Estate Bar Association for Massachusetts (REBA) and serves as a member of the REBA Board of Directors. He is an active member of the Massachusetts Municipal Lawyers Association (MMLA), which honored him for his career contributions to legal education and effective advocacy on the Home Rule Doctrine. At the National CLE Conference in Vail, CO, Mr. McGregor co-chairs an annual seminar on Environmental Law, Land Use, Energy & Litigation for attorneys from across the United States.

Mr. McGregor is a long time member of the board of directors of the Massachusetts Association of Conservation Commissions (MACC) having served as Board President twice. He has handled several cases for MACC as amicus and is a regular presenter at their annual meeting.

Mr. McGregor is a graduate of Dartmouth College and Harvard Law School.

View Attorney McGregor's Case List >>

Across the spectrum of environmental law we offer advice and representation
with practical, results-oriented lawyering.


Contact Information