Save Our Heritage

Protecting the Birthplace of the American Revolution,

the cradle of the Environmental Movement,

and the Home of the American Literary Renaissance


Save Our Heritage seeks community support
for ongoing environmental challenge
at Hanscom Field

This year we have been focused on reigning in a massive expansion project by Jet Aviation which was poised to begin construction in May.  Because of our work, the project is on hold and its outcome presently unknown.  Jet Aviation is one of now three private luxury jet service facilities at Massport’s civil airport (including the recently completed Rectrix facility on the old historic Hangar 24 site).

With a “build it and they will come” strategy, Jet Aviation’s expansion plans are intended to attract and accommodate the newest generation of large private jets used for international travel, Gulfstream 650s.  Over two acres of the 140,000 square foot development would be located in wetlands buffer zones in Lincoln.  However, the Jet Aviation case has profound, far-reaching implications for all four of our Hanscom-area towns (Concord, Lexington, Lincoln and Bedford). 

At issue is whether Massport and its tenants are exempt from our local non-zoning bylaws (relating to health, safety, and the environment). Because Massport’s Enabling Act gives it extraordinary powers to bypass local zoning regulations (and local taxes) because of the “essential government function” it performs, Hanscom-area towns have for decades not challenged Massport's assertion that the zoning bylaw exemption extended to all local bylaws--until the Jet Aviation case.

During the controversial public hearings held by the Lincoln Conservation Commission(LCC), Save Our Heritage’s legal counsel -- acting on your behalf as Hanscom-area citizens -- made the ground-breaking finding that neither Massport nor Jet Aviation is immune from local non-zoning bylaws when these bylaws do not impinge on “essential government function” -- a point supported by Lincoln’s Town Counsel, the LCC themselves, as well as by our State Legislators.

One key issue is whether any project by a tenant of Massport is automatically shielded from our local laws, simply because they lease from Massport.  A second key issue is what kind of project is "an essential government function".  The citizens position is that a tenant does not automatically gain protection from regulations just because they lease from Massport, and that while some functions of Massport are "essential government functions", providing parking and other amenities for private luxury aircraft and limousines should certainly not be considered an essential government function.  The citizens only request is that commercial projects by Massport tenants be required to comply with the same environmental laws that any other business or resident would need to meet.

Despite this, Jet Aviation  refused to submit its plans under the local Lincoln Wetlands Bylaw.  In response, the LCC approved the plans, with conditions, last May under the less strict state Wetlands Act.  Since then, Lincoln citizens have filed two appeals with MassDEP: one in May challenging the LCC’s decision, and the second in October challenging the DEP’s approval of the LCC’s decision.  The Jet Aviation development has been on hold since May owing to these legal actions.

The appeals argue that Jet Aviation should be required to file under the local wetlands bylaw. Amenities for users of private luxury aviation, provided by profit-making companies on Massport property, are clearly not performing essential government function. We need to establish this precedent now to assure that our towns have some say in the future land uses and resource protection within and around Hanscom Field.  Our towns are what they are because of regulations that protect our natural and historic resources – and they should be implemented when needed.

Because of your past donations, Save Our Heritage has been able to provide important information to the public about development at Hanscom Airport and its consequences to our natural and historic resources.  Critically, we have been able to lend financial support to the Jet Aviation appeals which, as you know, requires significant funds.

The new second appeal process will extend into the new year and will require additional support.  All that stands between Jet Aviation moving forward with its unjustified encroachment into wetlands buffer zones or not is the awareness and engagement of our citizens, and the funds needed to make the required legal challenges.  Please give as generously as you can this year to help support and fund these important legal actions, so critical to our Hanscom-area towns’ future!

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