Massport Official on Hangar Plan: We’ve Only Just Begun

January 30, 2023
“Proposed Condition Site Plan” from the Environmental Notification Form for L.G. Hanscom Field North Airfield Development, created by engineering firm VHB. Courtesy Image.

A Massachusetts Port Authority official last week stressed that there will be opportunities for public reaction to a planned complex of almost a half-million square feet of Hanscom Field hangar space near Hartwell Road in Bedford.

“I would emphasize also that we are at the beginning of the process, and though we have a proposal, it’s a proposal, and some details could change along the way,” said Jennifer Mehigan, Director of Media Relations, in an email.

“The public will have more opportunity to participate,” she added.

Proposed are 27 new hangars on what Massport calls the North Airfield, comprising about 408,000 square feet of storage space. In addition, the contiguous 63-year-old so-called Navy hangar, which is privately owned, would be refurbished and provide another 87,000 square feet.

The total of 495,000 square feet increases the current one million square feet of hangar space at Hanscom by almost 50 percent.

“Land Transfer Plan” from the Environmental Notification Form for L.G. Hanscom Field North Airfield Development, created by engineering firm VHB. The proposed development is outlined in red. Courtesy Image.

Developers, awarded the contract by the Massachusetts Port Authority several months ago, are two limited liability companies, North Airfield Ventures and Runway Realty Ventures, which owns the existing hangar.    

The proposal is now under an environmental review process under the Massachusetts Environmental Protection Act (MEPA). Although the public comment period on the initial environmental notification form (ENF) ends Feb. 14, the process will continue through the remainder of the year.

“We are currently working with the MEPA office to schedule a public consultation session on the ENF. This will take place prior to the close of the comment period,” said Kenneth Schwartz, planning and design service leader with the Watertown consulting firm VHB, which led the professional team preparing the filing.

He pointed out that the process offers numerous opportunities for public review and comment over the next several months.

“Existing Conditions Plan” from the Environmental Notification Form for L.G. Hanscom Field North Airfield Development, created by engineering firm VHB. The proposed development is outlined in red. Courtesy Image.

When the notification form is certified, it will include the scope of an environmental impact report (EIR). According to the MEPA process, that report reflects the status of project planning and design and must “assess measures to avoid, minimize and mitigate environmental impacts, and identify measures the proponent will commit to.”

The environmental notification explains that the plans are in response to Massport’s current and future space needs. 

There are no data substantiating the demand, but Schwartz said that the environmental impact report will document and analyze not only “information on the number and type of aircraft to be accommodated in the new and existing hangars,” but also “data on aircraft that fly in and out empty to pick up and drop off aircraft operators who cannot secure storage space at Hanscom. As described in the ENF, there is a strong demand for hangar space at Hanscom,” he wrote in an email. “Existing tenants are currently operating over capacity and have been forced to place existing customers seeking hangar space on waiting lists.”  

Massport has been advancing the “ferry-flight” rationale for several years.

Asked about a reference in the notification form to a historical museum as part of the hangar project, Schwartz wrote, “The proponent is having discussions with a number of museum operators. Nothing will be finalized until the permitting process is completed.”

The owners estimate that the permitting and design period – which Schwartz said began Jan. 17 with the ENF filing – will take 18 months. The target year for completion of the construction is 2026.

A 100-page environmental notification form was made available to the public Wednesday by the state Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. The comment deadline is Feb. 14.

Access to the details is available from engineering firm VHB ([email protected]), which prepared the report for the developers, North Airfield Ventures and Runway Realty Ventures. The link for comments is https://eeaonline.eea.state.ma.us/EEA/PublicComment/UI/searchcomment.

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Kathryn Rifkin
February 5, 2023 6:23 pm

They can do this if they allow only Electric Vehicles – planes and trucks.

Thomas Kenny
February 5, 2023 12:30 pm

This massive expansion of private jet use at Hanscom, creating more, noise, air, water, light and fossil fuel use pollution and is the exact opposite of every green initiative being proposed Nationally and locally. This is a 50% increase in private jet space that will invade our communities.

Patty Dahlgren
January 30, 2023 7:10 pm

Don’t be fooled that your “opportunity to talk” = “opportunity to participate” in any impactful way. Historically I know what this means. It’s a pacifier. #BedfordDeservesBetter

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