Steve provides strategy and team management of federal, tribal, state, and municipal zoning, land use, and environmental review. Services include pre-purchase due diligence, entitlements, right-to-build, construction, and operation approvals for new and expanding projects. To support these efforts, Steve also develops critical path method schedules and formal permit management systems as needed.
Steve’s approach is grounded in early identification of all required permits and approvals, parallel scheduling of review processes, and well-crafted applications and support documents. Early and continuing liaisons with reviewers then helps keep projects on track and on schedule.
He has experience with NEPA, MEPA, BIA, US EPA, USACE, MassDEP, MassCZM, MassDOER, FHWA, FAA, MassDOT, MassDCR, USF&W, NHESP, MassDAR, MHC, Article 80, SPSR, 40B, and analogous federal, tribal, state, and municipal regulations and regulators throughout New England.
For municipal clients, he provides zoning and non-zoning bylaw/ordinance analysis and revision, peer review, consensus building, and decision support.
Steve also provides pro bono career advice to those entering and making changes within the zoning, land use, and environmental review field.
Steve founded Rackemann Strategic Consulting in 1989 and has served as its president since. His experience before that includes:
- Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act Office, Boston, 1984 to 1989. Principal Civil Engineer (1984) and Assistant Secretary, Environmental Impact Review (1986). Co-authored the 1987 revised Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) Regulations, reviewed major development projects, and managed the Commonwealth’s primary environmental impact review program for the Secretary of Environmental Affairs.
- Jason M. Cortell and Associates, Inc., Waltham, Mass., 1972 to 1984. Environmental Engineer (1972), Project Director (1973), Director of Technical Studies (1977) and Vice President (1981) for a nationally known environmental consulting firm providing complete analysis, review, and approval services to a wide range of private and public clients.
Honors, Awards, and Appointments
- NAIOP Public Service Award, 2004 and 2007
- MassEEA Greenhouse Gas Policy Group, 2009-2011
- MassDEP Regulatory Reform Working Group, 2011-2017
- MassEEA MEPA Regulations Working Group, 1998 and 2008
- MassDEP Title 5 Working Group, 2017-2018
- Strategic Advice
For private, institutional, and not-for-profit clients, Steve’s efforts focus on the strategy and tactics of review and development for new projects, on environmental compliance assurance for existing facilities, and on liaisons with regulatory agencies. Steve has advised several hundred private development projects on environmental review strategy, including retail and commercial development, contaminated property reuse, industrial subdivisions, parking facilities, single and multi-family housing projects, waterfront development, mixed-use developments, and smart-growth projects. Steve’s major current and recent projects include a major transit-oriented development in Somerville, a mixed-use project in Canton, a major energy facility in Boston, a large retail project in North Attleborough, and MESA habitat review and permitting for several projects on the islands. Steve also has served as strategic advisor for environmental review and environmental regulatory matters to the University of Massachusetts (UMass), Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport), the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation (RIEDC), and the Governor of Rhode Island. For public sector clients, Steve brings his skills to bear on environmental review strategy, policy analyses, regulatory assessments, capital planning, and development feasibility. Major projects include the UMass Lowell Strategic Development Plan, the UMass Boston Master Plan, Logan Airport Modernization, Worcester Commuter Rail Extension, and the Quonset Davisville (RI) Master Plan and Container Port Study.
- Environmental Review Management
Steve often manages the preparation of environmental review documents. This begins with the negotiation of an appropriate scope of study with reviewing agencies. From that scope, he develops scopes of work for each technical contractor, assists in the selection of suitable technical contractors, provides a writers guide outline of all text to be produced and provides quality assurance and quality control review of all draft text. Where needed, he redrafts text or drafts particularly sensitive text directly. Finally, he can assemble, produce, and handle the proper filing of the review document. He also provides effective liaison services between the project proponent, its technical team, and regulators. The result is environmental review documents and processes that meet the needs of regulating agencies while achieving project objectives in a timely and cost effective way. He has provided such services on several hundred public and private sector projects.
- Conflict Resolution/Communications
Where there is public or agency concern with the real or perceived impacts of a project, Steve provides issue identification, negotiation with affected parties, representation in public and agency meetings, and mediation among affected interests. Such situations arise in the context of alleged violations, where negotiations with permit agencies must be carried out, in the remediation of contaminated sites, where both communications with nearby residents and negotiations with potentially responsible parties often are needed, and in the environmental impact review of large or controversial projects, where public presentations and agency liaisons can be the key to success. His assignments in this area have included negotiating consent agreements in lieu of administrative or civil penalty actions on private projects, negotiating appropriate permit conditions for new development, and ministering to complex lease negotiations where potential tenants have environmental concerns. He also has represented clients successfully in negotiations around endangered species and historical resources.
Current and Recent Projects
- Permitting for large residential projects in North Attleborough and West Bridgewater
- Support for the sale of a prime development parcel in Kendall Square
- A large transit-oriented development in Somerville
- Reuse advice for two retired coal-fired power plants in Pennsylvania
- Siting advice for a new performing arts center
- Mixed-use projects in Sharon and Shrewsbury
- NAIOP Massachusetts—The Commercial Real Estate Development Association – Member and past Chair of the Environmental Committee.
- Environmental Business Council of New England
- 495/MetroWest Partnership
- Chi Epsilon National Civil Engineering Honors Society
- Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honors Society
- Boston Harbor Now
Publications & Talks
Steve is a regular presenter on land use and environmental matters, including:
- Moderator, Ocean and Coastal Law and Policy in Massachusetts, 2005
- Guest Lecturer at MIT, Harvard, BU, Northeastern, and Wentworth
- Speaker on MEPA and Permitting Strategy
- MCLE Panelist on Land Use and Environmental Matters
- The New MEPA Regulations, 1998
- Reviewing and Revising the MEPA Regulations, 1997
- The Saga of City Line Center, 1996
- Environmental Science for Environmental Attorneys, 1991
- Zoning Disputes, Appeals and Strategies, 1990