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Boston turns to developer fees to fund flood protection infrastructure

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Codes and Standards

Boston turns to developer fees to fund flood protection infrastructure

Assessments on commercial properties will help build seawall and other protective measures.

By Peter Fabris, Contributing Editor | September 7, 2021

Courtesy Pixabay

City-owned land in Boston’s booming Seaport district is vulnerable to flooding, a condition that will only worsen with climate-induced sea-level rise.

To address this threat, city officials have instituted developer fees as a condition to build in the area to help finance a seawall and other protective infrastructure. Cost estimates to protect the 191-acre area are as high as $124 million.

Without any resiliency measures, the area would otherwise be prone to regular flooding as soon as the 2030s, and could be largely under water at high tide by the end of the century. Developers are designing properties to be flood resilient, but a seawall would protect properties from utility outages and flooded roads.

The program, the Climate Resiliency Fund, is modelled on programs that collect developer fees for affordable housing funds or for park space or infrastructure upgrades.

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