Community Real Estate

State Agency Determines that Commercial to Residential Changes at Commercial Wharf Need Chapter 91 License

Commercial Wharf Aerial – Yacht Haven shown on right. Source: DEP Request for Determination

Boston Yacht Haven received a positive ruling from a State agency in its ongoing Chapter 91 disputes with the Commercial Wharf East Condo Association.

The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has made a “positive” determination that “changes in use from commercial to residential in thirty-six (36) units subsequent to January 1, 1984″… “require a Departmental authorization in the form of a license.” (View PDF of the DEP Determination of Applicability)

The direct stakeholders are Boston Boat Basin, LLC, owners of Boston Yacht Haven marina, and the condominium association at Commercial Wharf.  In its filing (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3) Boston Boat Basin LLC challenged the Commercial Wharf East building (84 Atlantic Avenue) and its compliance with Chapter 91 regulations. In addition, there is an ongoing dispute regarding Harborwalk access and parking at Commercial Wharf.

Chapter 91 Waterways licenses “protect and promote the public interest in water bodies by ensuring that proposed projects and activities do not unreasonably interfere with navigation and the rights of the public or adjacent waterfront property owners; protect water-dependent uses and serve a proper public purpose,” according to the DEP.

The Commercial Wharf Condominium Association had argued in a letter against the licensing requirement because the DEP already reviewed the “commercial to residential” conversion issue in 2004 and previously made a determination. It also addressed an “apparent pretext for creating litigation leverage.”

Regarding the ongoing Harborwalk dispute at Commercial Wharf, the condo association letter says:

“Although CWECA (the condo association at Commercial Wharf) has been willing to allow a portion of its property to be used to complete the South Side Harborwalk, it has not been completed. Among the primary impediments to construction of the South Side Harborwalk is Boston Boat’s refusal to allow a portion of its property necessary for the construction.”

The Harborwalk issue came up most recently in the Fall of 2012 at the Boston Conservation Commission as part of an approval for new marina equipment at Yacht Haven. The Conservation Commission added a general condition to its approval that the proponent continue discussions with the State’s Department of Environmental Protection and abutters toward the creation of a Harborwalk on the southern side of Commercial Wharf. To date, there is no sign of activity regarding a new Harborwalk at Commercial Wharf.