Environmental &
Land Use Practice

Image courtesy of KMDG, landscape architect, Christian Phillips Photography, christianphillipsphoto.com

NW&H attorneys have national, state and local expertise in environmental and land use law. Our attorneys bring experience from senior positions in government agencies and work with commercial and nonprofit developers, businesses and government entities. We combine legal advice with a real-world understanding of common challenges. We bring parties together and forge alliances, finding ways to build partnerships and get projects done.

Our practice is focused on environmental impact reviews, climate resiliency, zoning, environmental permitting of renewable energy and other projects, hazardous waste cleanup and cost recovery and brownfields redevelopment, wetlands and tidelands matters. We provide commonsense advice based on extensive and diverse legal experience and offer discounted government and nonprofit rates.

We work on major projects and policy initiatives as well as on smaller projects, draft legislation and regulations, and facilitate public-private partnerships. Our projects often involve multiple parties and are sometimes the focus of the public and in the press.

Selected Experience

Climate Resilience and Adaptation
  • As the legal members of a consulting team, Jay Wickersham and Barbara Landau developed recommendations for city-wide changes to the Boston Zoning Code, creating the new Coastal Flood Resilience Zoning Overlay District and Design Guidelines. NW&H assisted the team developing the Design Guidelines and coordinated the zoning recommendations with the Design Guidelines and with other city and state regulations. The recommendations have been codified as Article 25A of the Zoning Code.
  • Barbara Landau and Jay Wickersham are working with the Urban Harbors Institute of UMass Boston and the Woods Hole Group to develop model coastal resilience wetlands bylaws and regulations for the Cape Cod Commission, to be used by Cape Cod towns in revising existing wetlands bylaws and regulations. They are also advising on related zoning recommendations. The bylaws, regulations and recommendations will support the towns’ coastal resilience strategies, guiding development to minimize property damage from sea level rise, storm surge and other weather events, and protecting natural resources.
  • NW&H worked with Kleinfelder and the City of Cambridge to develop recommendations for new resiliency zoning that will address climate impacts, including flooding and heat, in the rapidly developing Alewife district.  Based on the Envision Cambridge comprehensive plan and the Cambridge Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment, the new zoning overlay district will provide greater resiliency for conditions anticipated in the Alewife district through the target year 2070 and beyond.
  • As the legal member of the consulting team on South Boston and Seaport District resiliency, NW&H was responsible for developing recommendations for changes to zoning and other regulations to provide greater resilience for sea level rise and climate change. Our firm was also responsible for determining the approval pathway, potential obstacles, and likely timeframes for the consulting team’s proposed technical solutions.
  • We assist private sectors clients with integrating climate ready solutions into development plans, and with compliance with quickly evolving rules and regulations related to climate resilience and climate adaptation.
Hazardous Waste Site Cleanups and Brownfields Development
  • NW&H has assisted numerous businesses and private and nonprofit developers with cleanup and redevelopment of contaminated properties, ranging from small parcels to large complex projects. We assist with environmental compliance, negotiating liability and financial responsibility settlements with prior owners, establishing on-going liability protections, procuring environmental insurance, and recovering claims under insurance policies and indemnification agreements.
  • As outside environmental counsel to the MBTA for CERCLA and 21E hazardous waste sites NW&H advises the MBTA on strategic and legal issues related to hazardous materials and negotiates settlements on its behalf with U.S. EPA and DOJ, MassDEP, and other parties.
  • As outside counsel to the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority, Barbara Landau counsels PEDA on the redevelopment of the former General Electric Company site, including compliance assistance with environmental land use restrictions, environmental regulations, and permitting, advice on potential liability, and assistance with environmental insurance, and with real estate transactions and redevelopment.
  • We represent parties in MGL c. 21E private cost recovery disputes, and help clients find cost-effective resolutions through negotiation or mediation.
Renewable Energy
  • NW&H provided legal advice to the Boston Planning and Development Agency to assist with revisions to Article 37 of the Boston Zoning Code and the development of Green Zero Net Carbon Building Policy and Standards. These revisions and the Policy and Standards will support and implement the City’s Zero Net Carbon Building program.
  • NW&H assists renewable energy developers with permitting strategy and securing necessary permits and approvals in Massachusetts.
  • NW&H negotiated leases and easements at our client’s brownfields sites and closed landfills for installation of solar facilities with ground-mounted photovoltaic panels. The agreements included solar access easements, site access agreements, municipal tax agreements and requirements to comply with landfill post closure use permits, existing environmental use restrictions and other environmental regulations.
  • Bennet Heart of NW&H is outside counsel to Cadmus in its role as the Administrator of the MassDPU’s System of Assurance of Net Metering Eligibility, reviewing solar energy facilities for compliance with program standards.
Environmental Impact Reviews & Permitting
  • Bennet Heart and Jay Wickersham have represented Massport on a wide range of environmental policy and regulatory matters. At Logan Airport, we advised the authority on MEPA / NEPA reviews for the expansion of Terminal E, and the development of a new 5,000 car parking facility. In parallel, we worked with the Massport team to develop legal arguments and documentation that served as the basis for regulatory changes in DEP and EPA regulations governing the Logan Airport parking freeze, imposed under the Federal Clean Air Act, and as the basis for an MOU executed with the Conservation Law Foundation.
  • We have provided strategic permitting advice to MassDOT for the Allston Multimodal project, and to the MBTA for projects including the Silver Line and the South Coast Rail Project.
  • We regularly assist property owners in addressing permitting issues, including MEPA/NEPA, wetlands and Army Corps permits. We also provide assistance with tidelands (Chapter 91) and endangered species permitting.
  • As state MEPA director, Jay Wickersham oversaw environmental impact reviews of major public and private projects, including the Central Artery / Tunnel project; Logan Airport expansion; and development of the South Boston waterfront.
Zoning / Affordable Housing / Smart Growth
  • NW&H developed recommendations for city-wide changes to the Boston Zoning Code for the Coastal Flood Resilience Zoning Overlay District and Design Guidelines. The recommendations have been codified as Article 25A of the Zoning Code.
  • We provided legal advice to the Boston Planning and Development Agency to assist with revisions to Article 37 of the Boston Zoning Code and the development of Green Zero Net Carbon Building Policy and Standards. These revisions and the Policy and Standards will support and implement the City’s Zero Net Carbon Building program.
  • We worked with Over Under, Inc. to assist BPDA in evaluating potential zoning changes to facilitate the development of triple-deckers across the City.
  • NW&H worked with BPDA to develop new zoning for the Downtown Waterfront Subdistrict (Article 42A), to incorporate the provisions of the approved Municipal Harbor Plan.
  • We worked with BPDA to develop a new overlay zoning, Article 49A, for the Rose Kennedy Greenway Overlay District. The zoning applies to all major development projects in multiple downtown districts that front on this urban park system. The zoning provides standards and procedures for ground-level uses, building and signage design, and open spaces that support pedestrian activities. NW&H also drafted new zoning to support development opportunities at several key locations within underlying districts adjacent to the Greenway, including the Government Center Garage site. 
  • For the Dorchester Neighborhood District (Article 65), the zoning developed by NW&H adjusts allowable uses and densities at a number of existing commercial centers along this urban corridor. The rezoning, which grew out of a public planning process, promotes new development opportunities while minimizing impacts on adjacent residential neighborhoods.
  • We developed new regulations and a model zoning bylaw for the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) for the smart growth law, Chapter 40R, providing incentives for high-density local zoning overlay districts near transit stations and in other appropriate locations.
  • For the City of Somerville, we developed zoning for the Union Square district that provides incentives for high-density housing and mixed-use development and arts-related uses.
  • For DHCD, we drafted the first comprehensive overhaul of the state’s regulations for affordable housing development under Chapter 40B. We then worked with a broad-based task force to develop regulations under the new affordable housing preservation act, Chapter 40T.
Historic Preservation
  • We served as legal counsel and leader of a multi-disciplinary team that developed a new redevelopment strategy for the Ames Shovel Works in North Easton, MA. Our efforts led to listing of the Shovel Works as one of the 11 most endangered sites in the country by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and to town-wide support for the preservation-based redevelopment of the site for mixed-income housing.


  • Massport
  • MassDOT
  • MBTA
  • City of Boston – Boston Planning and Development Agency
  • City of Cambridge
  • Pittsfield Economic Development Authority
  • Cape Cod Commission
  • Cadmus
  • The Davis Companies
  • Charter Development Company LLC
  • The Neighborhood Developers
  • The Woods Hole Research Center
  • Glenvale Solar
  • Andover Development Group
  • Grossman Development Group
  • The Grossman Companies
  • Mission Hill NHS
  • Organix / Symmeres – US
  • Brownfields Real Estate Development LLC
  • Wincrest Properties LLC