465 Waverley Oaks Rd #421 Waltham, MA. 02452
February 2018
ON THE LEVEL
A monthly newsletter from your state HBA to keep you informed.
State Updates  
 
BBRS Update – CSL Continuing Education; EV Charging Stations; Coastal A Zone.
 
Several issues of importance to the homebuilding industry were discussed at the February 13, 2018 State Board of Building Regulations and Standards (BBRS) meeting. 
 
CSL Continuing Education -- A request to change the CSL continuing education requirement to allow all 12 hours to be taken on line was defeated, so the current requirement limiting CSL holders to a maximum of 6 hours of online continuing education, with the remaining 6 hours of continuing education to be taken in person, remains in effect. The HBRAMA feels that the live classroom continuing education is more effective, and since it’s part of the Association’s mission to provide more effective education for our Member CSL holders, the Association supported the current rules that limit online hours to 6. 
 
Other issues discussed and deferred, but which will likely resurface in the coming months were:
 
Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging Stations -- a request to impose mandatory requirements to install electric vehicle (EV) fit-ups for charging stations associated with both residential and commercial buildings, as well as mandatory EV space set-asides, was reconsidered by the BBRS, and deferred for further study. This proposal is essentially the same proposal before the BBRS last year which this Association opposed, and the BBRS rejected, as a part of the adoption process for the 9 th Edition of the State Building Code. 
 
Coastal A Zone in Floodplain -- the BBRS discussed a proposal to require new or substantially modified buildings located in the Coastal A Zone (which is a high-hazard flood area subject to breaking waves between 1.5 and 3 feet), to be elevated above the Base Flood Elevation and supported on piles or similar foundations. Originally proposed as a part of the 9 th Edition but dropped until FEMA mapping picked up the Coastal A Zones in its mapping would, if adopted, impose these requirements on structures in areas encompassing 30 square miles of Massachusetts coastline. The BBRS voted to send this matter for further review by a working group yet to be formed. 
 
Other Changes on the Horizon -- We also note that in May, 2018, the BBRS will hold its semi-annual public hearing on code matters which will likely examine amendments related to: (a) Solar Ready provisions of the code to make compliance easier for homebuilders; (b) the 2018 International Energy Conservation Code which will be adopted soon; (c) potential amendments to NFPA 241 regulating fire protection measures while buildings are under construction due to highly-publicized fires at wood-frame multifamily buildings; and, (d) the adoption of Code amendments to incorporate “Tiny Houses” (generally defined as a dwelling which is 400 or less square feet in floor area excluding lofts) into the building code.
 
We continue to be well represented by BBRRS Member and HBRAMA Member Michael McDowell, as well as Homebuilders and Remodelers Association of Central Mass. Executive Director Guy Webb, both of whom have been closely monitoring code developments for our Association.  
 
Hearing Held on H., 4075, An Act to Promote Housing Choices

On January 30, the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Housing held a hearing on Governor Baker’s Housing Choice Bill. The legislation allows cities and towns to adopt best practice zoning techniques by a majority rather than 2/3rds vote of their legislative bodies. As noted by EOHED Secretary Jay Ash at the hearing, “if a municipality wants to reduce house lot sizes or other dimensional restrictions so that homebuilders can create housing that is more affordable to the average buyer, then the voting threshold is a simple majority. If a municipality wants to allow mixed use zoning in a downtown, then the voting threshold is a simple majority. If a municipality wants to create zoning that clusters houses together and conserves land compared to a typical suburban development, then the voting threshold is a simple majority. If a municipality wants to adopt 40R smart growth zoning, including our new starter home 40R districts, then the voting threshold is a simple majority. If a municipality wants to allow changes to its zoning that foster the creation of more housing, then the voting requirement is a simple majority.” The HBRAMA was well represented at the hearing by President Gary Campbell and HBRAMA lobbyist, Ben Fierro, who testified in support of the proposed legislation. The Association continues to be active in supporting and shaping the proposed legislation, the purpose of which is to promote housing production . See House Bill, 4075  here .

Building Code Legislation Advances
 
Legislation drafted by the HBRAMA to prohibit the State Board of Building Regulations and Standards from adopting any future local-option codes (so-called “stretch codes”) is moving forward at the State House. H. Bill 4053 was recommended for passage by the Joint Committee on State Administration and was recently given initial approval by the House of Representatives. Rep. David Vieira (R-Harwich) and Rep. Chris Walsh (D-Framingham) jointly sponsored the bill in response to the BBRS’ adoption in 2009 of the Stretch Energy Code. The HBRAMA, together with every construction industry organization in Massachusetts, as well as the Massachusetts Federation of Building Officials, is strongly opposed to local-option codes because they undermine the uniformity of the State Building Code. See House Bill No. 4053 here .
Federal Updates

EPA/Army Corps 2015 “Waters of the US Rolled Back ; NAHB Files Suit 

On February 6, 2018, the U.S. EPA and the Army Corps of Engineer’s announced that the implementation date of the controversial 2015 “waters of the U.S. rule” (or “2015 WOTUS Rule”) has been postponed for two years, until February 6, 2020. The 2015 WOTUS rule had very broadly defined the extent of the US EPA’s and Army Corps of Engineers’ regulatory jurisdiction under the Federal Clean Water Act. 

On the heels of this announcement, the NAHB joined a broad coalition of farmers, miners and foresters on Feb. 7, 2018 to ask the U.S. District Court in Texas to issue a nationwide preliminary injunction prohibiting the federal government from enforcing or implementing the 2015 WOTUS rule. In a February 8, 2018 statement by NAHB Chairman Randy Noel, “we support the efforts of the Trump Administration to re-craft the rule within the bounds of the Clean Water Act, but we also need certainty that previous Administration's too-broad interpretation of federal jurisdiction – the flawed 2015 rule – never sees the light of day.”

 The EPA’s February 6, 2018 final rule is intended to maintain the legal status quo during these ongoing rulemaking actions and while litigation is ongoing in district courts. The US EPA and the Army Corps will “…administer the regulations in place prior to the 2015 Rule, and will continue to interpret the statutory term “waters of the United States” to mean the waters covered by those regulations, as they are currently being implemented, consistent with Supreme Court decisions and practice, and as informed by applicable agency guidance documents.” Read about the final rule  here . See Current Guidance documents  here .
Army Corps General Permits for Massachusetts to be Re-Issued

As first reported in the November, 2017 edition of On the Level , the HBRAMA has learned that the New England District of the US Army Corps of Engineers intends to re-issue the General Permit for Massachusetts within the next few weeks. As reported several months ago, and through the combined efforts of the HBRAMA, NAHB and the NH Homebuilders Association, it is anticipated that the final General Permits will eliminate the previously proposed 750-foot buffer zone around vernal pools.  Stay tuned as new information is made available to us.
Other News of Note

Ruzzo Joins MassDevelopment

Robert M. Ruzzo joined MassDevelopment as Senior Executive Vice President/Deputy Director and General Counsel in December 2017. Mr. Ruzzo came to MassDevelopment from the law firm of Holland & Knight, where he served as senior counsel and advised clients on affordable housing, land use, environmental issues, infrastructure, finance, and transportation. Prior to joining Holland & Knight, Mr. Ruzzo was a member of the executive team at MassHousing, where he served first as general counsel and later as chief operating officer and deputy director. He served as senior environmental counsel on the Central Artery/Tunnel Project in Boston, and held a number of other leadership roles in the transportation sector. Mr. Ruzzo was also chief of real estate development and general counsel at the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority, and general counsel and deputy secretary for environmental policy at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Transportation. We wish Bob Ruzzo well and look forward to working with him in the future.
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Home Builders & Remodelers Association of Massachusetts, Inc.

465 Waverley Oaks Rd
Suite 421
Waltham, MA 02452
P: 617-773-3305
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