Late last year, pursuant to her review authority under M.G.L. c. 40, § 32, then-Attorney General (now Governor) Maura Healey (the AG) issued a decision disapproving the Town of Carver’s moratoria on large-scale solar projects and battery storage systems. The grounds for the decision were straightforward and well-supported: citing the Supreme Judicial Court’s June, 2022 decision in Tracer Lane II Realty, LLC v. City of Waltham (see our blog post on that important opinion), and case law disfavoring moratoria generally, the AG determined that Carver’s moratoria violated M.G.L. c. 40A, § 3 (Section 3) by unlawfully restricting solar and battery storage systems “with no articulated evidence of an important municipal interest, grounded in protecting the public health, safety, or welfare […] sufficient to outweigh the public need for solar energy systems.” The AG found that instead of promoting the policy behind Section 3, the moratoria “undermined the state policy favoring solar energy” and that the town’s interest
Breaking: Massachusetts Attorney General Strikes Down Municipality’s Attempt to Ban Gas Installations in Buildings
On July 21, 2020, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey struck down a by‑law passed by the Town of Brookline that would have disallowed most construction that included “fossil fuel infrastructure.” The Attorney General’s decision can be found here. This by-law would have prevented gas installations in new or substantially renovated buildings and would have required heat, hot water, and appliances to be all electric starting in 2021, with certain exemptions.
The Attorney General’s Municipal Law Unit is tasked with review of town by‑laws to assure they don’t conflict with state laws or the state constitution. This review is limited, and usually by-laws are approved unless there is a direct conflict. The Attorney General acknowledged the climate change policy behind the Brookline by-law, but confirmed that local laws cannot: (1) conflict with the state building code, (2) conflict with the state gas code, or (3) conflict with state law giving the Department of Public Utilities control over gas distribution.
The Supreme Judicial