Baker: Janey can’t just withdraw harbor plan

Says she would have to submit a new plan for approval

ACTING BOSTON Mayor Kim Janey said late last month that she was withdrawing the city’s downtown municipal harbor plan, but Gov. Charlie Baker on Monday said a plan cannot technically be withdrawn – it has to be replaced with something.

“Procedurally, you can’t really just withdraw a plan. You have to write one,” Baker said at a State House news conference. “You actually have to submit a new plan.”

Janey’s decision on the harbor plan dealt a major blow to developer Don Chiofaro’s proposed tower on the waterfront near the New England Aquarium as well as another tall building at the Hook Wharf site. The acting mayor’s announcement came in the midst of an election campaign in which Janey was facing pressure to pull the plug on Chiofaro’s tower.

“We have an opportunity and an obligation to meet this moment of the climate change crisis and protect our waterfront for generations to come,” said Janey in announcing her decision on the waterfront plan. “I look forward to working with local advocates and civic leaders to embed our shared values of resilience, equity, and access into the City’s development process downtown and throughout all of our neighborhoods.”

In last week’s preliminary election, Janey came in fourth and did not qualify for the final in November, which means the fate of the harbor plan and the tower will probably end up in the hands of one of the two finalists, either Michelle Wu or Annissa Essaibi George.

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Bruce Mohl

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About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

Before Janey asked state officials to withdraw the plan, it was already on shaky ground after a judge invalidated municipal harbor plans across the state because they had been certified by the secretary of energy and environmental affairs when they should have been approved by the Department of Environmental Protection. The agency is taking steps now to ratify the previously approved plans.

Baker said Janey can change the city’s harbor plan but she can’t just unilaterally withdraw it. “The way the process works around harbor plans is communities develop them; states certify them,” he said. “If you want to change your plan, you can, but you don’t just withdraw it.”