State denies Northeastern’s request to expedite Nahant expansion

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NAHANT — The state denied Northeastern University’s request to expedite the school’s planned expansion on Nahant’s East Point.

The Massachusetts Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs ruled last week that Northeastern must submit a final environmental impact report before it will be allowed to upgrade its existing facility’s seawater intake system.

The upgrade is one part of the university’s proposed Coastal Sustainability Institute, which would be located on a 55,000 square foot plot of land owned by the school.

“Majority of commenters continue to express concern with the size and scale of the project,” Secretary Kathleen Theoharides said in her ruling. “Including impacts to open space, wildlife, and municipal infrastructure.”

Theoharides’ ruling stated that delaying the first phase of Northeastern’s construction would not result in “undue hardship” for the school.

It also requested the university address land alteration, greenhouse gas emissions, the site’s climate change vulnerabilities, and its potential impact to nearby Canoe Beach.

Emily Potts, president of non-profit organization Nahant Preservation Trust, said the group is pleased with the ruling.

“It is consistent with what we’ve believed all along — that NU’s proposed plan needs to be viewed holistically and in its entirety to fully understand all the consequences the proposed development will have,” she said in a press release from the environmental group Keep Nahant Wild.

Northeastern spokesman Michael Ferrari said the school is unconcerned with the ruling and still plans to continue with the replacement this spring.

“While the Marine Science Center’s seawater intake system is severely degraded … the secretary felt the system’s total failure was not imminent and therefore did not meet the criteria for a waiver at this time,” he said.

“Given DEP’s July 2019 letter noting no adverse impacts on water quality and temperature from the project, the university expects to begin replacing the system this spring following MEPA’s approval of the final environmental impact report.”

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